On Being Adventurous, and Dealing with the Ensuing Guilt

25 Oct

Recently my partner, MM, and I went on a road trip.  It was a long drive.  And we were sitting right next to each other.  And usually when we’re that close to each other, we’re touching in some way.  Which, of course, often leads to some sex.  So on that long drive, we held hands most of the way.  Or rubbed the back of each other’s necks.  Or kissed each other’s hands.  Almost constant contact.  At one point, something got my fires burning on a low but persistent level and that made me want to touch a little more than his hand.  So I started fondling his cock through his pants.  Which, of course, gave him an erection. Which just led naturally to pulling out his erect cock and me giving him a hand job as we drove over a mountain pass.*  And since I often come without much stimulation beyond thinking about sex and giving my partner pleasure, those factors and a very little manual stimulation from him** gave me a series of very low-level but very pleasurable orgasms, too.

It was a new experience for me, giving a man a hand job while I was driving with the other hand (perhaps not the safest activity, but that’s not really what I’d like to discuss here).  And I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  But I was surprised by my thoughts afterwards.  I’ve been sexually active for a long time now–off and on for the last decade.  I don’t really deal with guilt about it at all any more (though I did at a few points early on in my pre-marital sexual activity).  And I’m sexually adventurous.  There is no sexual activity I’ve engaged in that makes me feel guilty or like I’ve somehow not been a “good girl,” up to and including anal sex (which seems to be a pretty common no-no amongst even my most open-minded Mormon friends); and there are no sexual activities I completely rule out, except those that involve actual physical harm, urination, or defecation.  But after this particular experience, I found myself internally worrying what MM may think of me after I rubbed him off while driving over a mountain pass.  Would he be disgusted by how much I wanted sex?  By my willingness to throw aside all sense of decorum (I’m quite certain that giving your partner a hand job while you’re driving a car at 55 miles an hour doesn’t qualify as “decorous”) in pursuit of sexual engagement?  Would he think me less genteel, less than a lady?  Would he be put off enough that it sewed seeds of doubt about whether I was the kind of woman he wanted to be with?

As soon as I recognized the pattern of my thoughts, I talked to him about it.  Because we were still in the car and I’d rather talk about things like this than not.  And he assured me that not only was he not put off by the encounter, he both thoroughly enjoyed the encounter itself and loves how adventurous and slightly naughty I am where sex is concerned.  And that did the trick.  I stopped worrying that maybe I had revealed my true, wantonly un-lady-like colors and was just very glad that I’ve found a partner who appreciates my sexual appetite and whose appetite matches my own.  But I remained discomfited by the way that my Mormon upbringing still affected my perception of that encounter, especially given the fact that my other sexual activity with MM and my other partners has been guilt free for the better part of a decade.  It does make me a bit more sympathetic to the Mormons, active or not, who find themselves feeling guilt or self-loathing or worry about their partner’s perception of them when it comes to their sexual activities.

What about you?  Do you deal with feelings of guilt?  Or worry that your enjoyment of sexual activities, whether the most vanilla or those that are a bit more adventurous, might negatively affect your partner’s perception of you?  How do you cope with these feelings?

* Really this is a very bad idea, at least in terms of vehicular safety, and I shouldn’t have done it.  I know that.  No need to tell me again.

** This is likewise a very bad idea.  I suggest not attempting this, either.

Advertisements

28 Responses to “On Being Adventurous, and Dealing with the Ensuing Guilt”

  1. older October 26, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Don’t understand why guilt or any other negative emotion should come into it. When we travel my wife often gets naked apart from an open shirt for covering when higher vehicles are close.

    Usually after some time, we find a place to pull of and satisfy each other.

    We have both held temple recommends for over 40 years.

  2. Patty B. October 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Older,

    I completely agree that guilt shouldn’t be a part of it, which is why I wrote the post. My point is that even though I usually don’t feel guilt about my sexual activity, this time I did. We hear from a, lot of Mormons who do feel unnecessary guilt about perfectly normal sexual behavior, even inside marriage, and that can cause major problems for people, including ending a marriage. I think this trend has a lot to do with how the church & its members teach about sex. And I think a conversation about how to deal with such feelings is a good idea.

    While I appreciate your attempt to normalize this particular sexual act, that’s beside the point I’m trying to make. And I find the attitude that “of course this shouldn’t cause guilt” a bit counterproductive because it’s more likely to make people ashamed that they feel guilt than to encourage them to enter the conversation. The fact is that people feel guilty about some sexual acts unnecessarily and unexpectedly (as in this case). I’d like to open a space where we can talk about how to manage & overcome such feelings. Do you have suggestions?

  3. Moriah Jovan October 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Patty B., let me ask you this: If you were married, do you think you’d feel the same “guilt” you’re feeling? In other words, you seem to be feeling “guilt” over a particular incident that you feel is outside your comfort zone?

    Or perhaps the “guilt” is because it was risky and you could have swerved off the road and gotten killed and you’re a little bit shaken up by the “what could have happened”s?

  4. Patty B. October 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    This particular guilt had to do with neither the fact that we’re not married nor the potential vehicular danger. It was this completely unexpected and uncharacteristic feeling like I’d gone past some boundary of acceptability, like this was a particularly crass act that would negatively affect MM’s opinion of me. So it was more a good girl syndrome thing, which I’ve never really dealt with before (which is why it was so unexpected).

  5. KaralynZ October 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I can sympathize with what you describe. I’m usually pretty guilt-free with my husband but every now and then we’ll cross a line I didn’t realize I had. For me it seems to be less LDS related more the broader cultural virgin-whore dichotomy. Basically, will he still respect me in the morning? Now unless he’s got some serious issues of his own, the answer is yes. But I’m sure we’re all aware of men who want women to do certain things and then disrespect them afterwards for doing whatever it was.

    Oddly, one of the things that helped me with this was getting my husband to call me names when we get into our… ahem …. rougher role play. Having him call me a slut when we’re doing something particularly kinky directly addresses my unconscious fear and lays it out on the table. Not saying you should try this, but perhaps the psychology behind it will stir some ideas?

  6. The Other Brother Jones October 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    I have gone through a “relieved of guilt” feeling also. In my case it has to do with pornography. It is a problem I have struggled with for a long time and I have long felt guilty about it. Sometimes I have gone through a period where I have not felt the guilt. I suspect this has to do with the fact that I am just unable to deal with it for awhile, or that I am “past feeling”.
    In any case, my attitude is that porn is wrong and I am trying to change my behaviour. As I keep trying I start to feel guilty again, but not in as negative a way. I know it is wrong and I know I am trying, and I know I am making progress. The guilt helps me remember which direction I need to be moving and that serves in a positive way. (So is it really guilt then?)
    I don’t know, doest this bring any idea on your situation?

  7. Moriah Jovan October 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    To me, it sounds like insecurity with the relationship and simply not knowing him well enough, which, quite frankly, most couples have their sticking points about this thing or that thing or some other thing (see KaralynZ.’s post).

    But of course, I could be full of it, too. 😉

  8. handle with care October 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I generally feel no guilt at all,in fact I’ve always been surprised at how shameless I’ve been from the get-go.It’s been different for my DH though.I think he has had a lot of shame around his male desire,and it’s taken me a long time to realise that ,and even longer to name it together.It’s hard to negotiate something that can’t be named,and I’m very keen to keep my children’s desires shame free.

    I do sometimes internalise my DH’s projections, though I’m usually able to de-fuse that for myself by asking him if he will still love me in the morning.This kind of confronts this for us both,becoming a short hand for all the stuff that could potentially become shameful.When he says ‘yes’,he’s coming close to digesting some of that shame and taking it back,and I’m kind of offering it back to him to look at,and he’s making a decision about what to do with it.None of it’s that conscious,but I’m just reflecting on how it works for us.

    I think you’re right in thinking about the self-consciousness that comes from crossing a new boundary,my guess is that it might be about stepping into a new area of your intimacy-nakedness is a metaphor as well as the thing itself.It can be challenging to own our own desires,and in spite of what I’ve said I think I do experience that from time to time-but I think generally I really quite like it-it feels like an indicator that we’re heading in the right direction.Excellent post,though I won’t be doing this hurtling through space at 55mph either.But we could pull over…

  9. Whitney October 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    I think this article might help you, Patty:
    http://jezebel.com/5852666/sex-on-the-first-date-is-a-fictional-fuck

    It’s not directly addressing the same thing, but I think the underlying worry–“will he still respect me?”–is the same. Her conclusion might not apply in your situation (since she’s talking about a one-night stand, and you’re not), but she discusses the same kind of issues with feeling strangely guilty even though she’s sex positive and anti-slut-shaming.

  10. demon October 27, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    I have never found anything that makes me feel guilty. I also have a wife who is not afraid to say no this is not the time or the place for stuff like that. I feel as though if both parties are consenting adults and you want to give it a try go ahead.

  11. KaralynZ October 27, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    I saw that Jezebel article and while it’s a great one… I don’t this it has anything at all to do with what Patty and I are describing.

  12. Whitney October 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Karalyn,
    Fair enough. I’m not the one actually going through it. As I said, though, I am seeing a common theme of some kind of cognitive dissonance–knowing that these feelings of “guilt” are due to cultural baggage, but still experiencing those feelings anyway.

  13. Patty B. October 28, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    To be clear, I don’t think of myself as “going through” anything. I had a momentary flash of guilt about something I’d done–or more precisely, a momentary flash of concern about what MM might think of me–, so I talked to MM about it, resolved it, and moved on. But I thought since others I know have occasionally felt similarly, it might be worth throwing the experience out there and inviting others to talk about how they’ve resolved similar feelings. I don’t think this is going to be an ongoing problem for me and if it happens again, I’ll just confront it again. I’m less interested in getting help for myself than in opening a dialogue where others can get help if they need it, either by asking or by finding comments from people like them who have dealt with this in the past.

    Like Karalyn, I took the route of putting the problem out there and dealing with it head on, though we used different strategies. I know, however, that not everyone does so. A lot of people kind of just stifle it away and live with the worry that they’ve somehow revealed some bad part of themselves and have jeopardized their relationship.

    While I agree that the Jezebel article is not about the same exact problem I’m getting at here, I do see some important parallels. As Whitney points out, these feelings of “guilt” are more often than not caused by cultural baggage than by reality, and the Jezebel article gets at that. And I think the point of the “fictional fuck” is an important one. There’s this Rufus Wainwright song that has the line “Every kind of love, or at least my kind of love, must be an imaginary love to start with” and I think he’s absolutely right. All love has some component of invention to it. In this particular instance, I invented a reaction that MM may have and it worried me (which is why Moriah is also on the right track about the dynamic here; part of this experience was about being in a relatively new relationship in which I’m still learning who MM is and how he thinks). Rather than giving that fiction the power to continue to affect me, I just asked point blank if it was an accurate fiction. It wasn’t. And it lost its power to hurt me. Unfortunately, we so often imbue these imaginary loves with so much power that they can go on hurting us because we don’t investigate what aspects of them are real and which are imaginary. It’s scary to probe that question because we might find out the most cherished aspects of our love aren’t the real ones. But ultimately it’s better to know than to not because one day the truth will out.

  14. UtahMark November 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I have never experienced feelings of guilt unless I was doing something wrong. It seems to me like what Patty described experiencing was more like apprehension about how her actions might be perceived by her partner. I suspect most of us experience those apprehensions from time to time, at least if we are trying to push things beyond what we’ve experienced with our partner in the past, and I think Patty dealt with it very well. But I wouldn’t call what she described “guilt”.

  15. anna November 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    i hope this doesn’t offend anybody, but i think it’s significant that the dudes commenting here don’t really know what you mean…i know there are those who suffer with ‘good boy syndrome’ out there but, this thread just shows me how generally it is a female phenomenon. think provoking.

  16. Anonymous November 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    I often suppress my naughtier sexual desires because my husband is more vanilla when it comes to sex. However, I did once orally satisfy him during a cross-country road trip and he found that exciting. I feel like I have to approach my fantasies very carefully and I don’t often share them with him. Its hard to describe, but I sometimes feel like he is turned off by my sexual adventurousness. Then, inevitably, I feel guilty or dirty for wanting to indulge my carnal side. It difficult sometimes and, ironically, it makes me less enthusiastic about being intimate.

    I, too, think its interesting that the men on this post don’t report feeling guilty. They dont have the “whore/Madonna” complex, they are encouraged to explore their sexuality and the myth that men have strong sexual appetites and fantasies while women (at least “normal” “good” women) don’t is widely accepted. Its archaic. Look at any church literature regarding masturbation or pornography–it is always directed at men. The Brethren seem to want to avoid considering the possibility that women have these drives as well.

  17. demon November 1, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Not to be rude or anything, I just have always felt that as long as both parties involved consent to what is going on then there is nothing to feel guilty about.

  18. Patty B. November 4, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Demon, that’s not so much rude as beside the point. As I’ve said (repeatedly) in the post and comments here, the point is not whether I *should* have felt guilty but that in spite of not really dealing with guilt as a consequence of my sexual activity, I had a flash of that feeling this time. And this is a normal occurrence for a lot of Mormons (though maybe mostly Mormon women)–feeling guilty when there’s no real reason to because of some sexual thought or activity. It’s just not all that helpful to say in response to this that there’s no reason to feel guilty. The fact of the matter is that no matter how much people consciously believe that there’s no reason to feel guilty about something, deeply ingrained attitudes and mores can still leave us feeling unexpectedly guilty or worried about our sexuality. So what do we do to deal with it? I suppose reminding ourselves that there’s no need to feel guilty is one option, but as someone who deals with self-criticism in other facets of my life, I can tell you that that particular strategy isn’t all that helpful in most instances.

    UtahMark, you’re right that the feeling was largely apprehension about my partner’s potential impression of me after I did something that crossed some psychologicaly line of what’s “appropriate” that I didn’t even realize I had. That said, I do think that this kind of apprehension and guilt do occupy some of the same psychological space.

    Like Anna, I find it interesting that the male commenters here seem to not have felt unjustifiable guilt about sexual behavior while it seems more common for women. I do think we need to recognize that feelings of guilt are somewhat complicated things. People certainly feel guilt about having done something “wrong” that might not actually be “wrong” for others. In other words, the relativity of the idea of “wrongness” can lead to people feeling guilt when others just scratch their heads and think, “but why?” (as amply evidenced in comments here). Which is precisely why I don’t think the “you shouldn’t feel guilty” response isn’t all that helpful.

    I also think that Anonymous raises a very important point: so long as people hold onto preconceived notions of what is “proper” in terms of feminine sexual interest and behavior, this will continue being a problem. She has perfectly acceptable sexual desires, but because they don’t square perfectly with prescribed notions of female sexuality (really rather limited prescriptions, unfortunately), they result in less intimacy and trust than more. That’s unfortunate. And she’s spot on in the observation that church leaders seem to want to ignore women as sexual creatures altogether.

  19. Rosa November 8, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I agree with Moriah Jovan the most- it was probably just a slight fear for a moment that you weren’t sure if he would value safety over sex or something, because the opportunity had never presented itself before. It would be the same slight guilt you might feel if you had been watching a marathon of America’s Next Top Model for 10 hours straight and he came home to find that you’ve really, truly wasted your whole day on that show. Then you realize you had never told him of your guilty-pleasure and you’re afraid for a moment that he might think that’s dumb. But then of course you discuss it (communication is key!) and work it out, like you did in your situation.

  20. jen December 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    I think its more of a woman thing than a mormon thing. Real ladies don’t “get dirty” so to speak and that is part of our puritanical heritage and only compounded by our mormon roots. Can you imagine any woman in France feeling like she was less of a lady for giving a good old HJ? Sometimes I wish I were a french woman… with a giant glass of wine. Then I would REALLY have fun having sex :p

  21. Moriah Jovan December 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Sometimes I wish I were a french woman… with a giant glass of wine.

    I think you must be my twin of another mother.

  22. Dondon December 31, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    The “good girl” is a woman phenomina. My wife was brought up under the New Life banner of religious studies. She tells me that she enjoys sex but then tells me she’s not bothered about sex. It is about time church leaders stop attempting to control girls from an early age by plastering heaps of guilt trips onto them. What they should be engaged in is giving women the support needed to live a normal healthy life as a human being. I am sure more relationships have been destroyed by the good girl syndrome then anything else. There is no such thing as a slut, just normal women who have varying levels of sexual activeness, and it would be far better to teach boys to appreciate and respect women for who they really are.

  23. KaralynZ January 1, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    The problem is because it’s so pervasive I don’t even know how to counter it in raising my own children other than to try and point it out to them when they’re old enough to understand it.

  24. UtahMark January 3, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I’ve always been careful when teaching my own children and in callings where I’ve been teaching or counseling the youth to never communicate the message that sex is bad, but instead to communicate that, as with other aspects of life, God has given us guidelines to follow concerning sex and we’re happier and have more opportunities open to us when we follow these guidelines. During the holidays one of my former young women, who has now been married a few years, was back visiting our ward. She pulled me aside and thanked me for counseling her in the way I did. She had been talking to some of her friends who had received the message “sex is bad” as they were growing up, and it had been a challenge for them to overcome that. She felt that she’d never had any issue with this because of the way I and others had taught her.

    I think most parents and church leaders have the right intentions when they are teaching about sex, but we just need to be careful about the way we word things so that we don’t inadvertently teach the wrong message.

  25. Sarah March 5, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Utahmark, I am glad there are others outside the more liberal states who teach this. I was raised in California. Sure I got the sex is bad, but more so, I got bombarded with being a good modest girl who doesn’t tempt boys, but I also did get a lot of the sex is good, really good in marriage. So I kind of lived a paradigm. I got both messages all at once. And I didn’t realize that until my feminist awakening. But I thank you for teaching it the way you did for those youth.

  26. julesgodson March 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Patty, first off I love your avatar! “Flaming June” is a favorite of mine.

    I am writing late to mention a couple of ideas and suggest a distinction … I hope these are responsive to your topic! As usual I write too much, but here goes.

    Guilt: A lousy feeling. But with regard to what your *husband* thinks, the time for him to object was then. If it is about what *society* thinks, what he thought would be irrelevant. His approval or disapproval have no power to turn water into wine. And you seem to have a lot of support here from disinterested parties (mine, too! see below).

    Whore: A sex act that’s healthy and generally accepted with an appropriate, sober, extremely willing partner? Oh please. If you think hand jobs are immoral, or women wanting sex are dirty, that’s separate from the incident. I don’t know who wakes up one morning and decides which sex acts are OK or what good girls want, but the pendulum has swung back and forth arbitrarily for years. A lot of sodomy laws and so on were driven not by any real concern for God as discrimination against minority, sexism, fear of oregnancy, and so on. So they used the unreliable cudgel of guilt to whip people in line. As for what exactly the Bible etc. have to say, well good luck with that one. Be wary of any individual professing to know everything with certainty–it may be more a power trip.

    Madonna/whore: this paradox is men’s fault. Ignore it.

    I think your immediate conundrum here is really about–

    Risk-taking: You did something reckless, which is about danger not sex. As for whether it as a good idea: no, and especially questionable if you endangered others. (I might sort of wink at you at the same time. That it was mildly out of character is flattering and sexy–you *wanted* him. The danger sounds sexy for the same reason, you felt an urgency. The spontaneity is also sexy — it wouldn’t have been the same if you’d planned it, right? That doesn’t mean you should have done it, but you did, it’s done, so chastise yourself *and* allow a sly grin for the good part.) It’s his obligation to object–and he didn’t. If he felt he couldn’t, that’s a communication problem.

    There are people BTW who have actual sex while driving, which is crazy and potentially homicidal. (That could lead to a manslaughter conviction, too.) When I was a pilot there was a lot of talk about the Mile High Club, which is considerably less risky but I know of at least one crash that resulted. It’s a trade-off. We’re human, we die without risk and adventure.

    Communication: You need to be able to talk, and under some measure of amnesty for saying something embarrassing. Like, just forget it or agree to disagree if you are uncomfortable. Copping an attitude for your partner giving you the supreme gift of candor and honesty is foolish.

    Perversions: A clever trick I read once is to take a checklist of sex acts with space for whether you’re interested, not interested, or middling. You each fill one out privately and trade. It can be very revealing where to explore or not without too much embarassment, e.g., re anal sex, and alleviate worries that the other person is humoring you by engaging in something, and secretly getting resentful or judgmental. And frankly I think the Savage Love rule of GGG is self-evidently true. Google it.

    For what little it’s worth, the worst I’d say is that you were impulsive, but re your partner you should be clear how terribly hot and irresistible he is. Hell, he got more out of it in direct sexuality than you did; you might as well call him the perv. That’s a fantasy of many men, to sit back have the woman come to them. The flattery should go over well, and apparently it’s true! He’s a lucky guy with a horny, expressive, loving, giving wife.

    Is that helpful? Some of it is me thinking out loud….

  27. julesgodson March 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    P.S. From the “about me” page on my blog:

    Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell.

    The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.

    —Butch Hancock

  28. Astonished December 8, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Oh good grief, women of all stripes deal with this, nothing to do with mormonism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: