For Love or Alcohol

November 3, 2009

I’m beginning to think I’m terrified of men.

If you haven’t read this, I suggest you do.  This particular blogger gives words creatively and intelligently to something I think about often: that my body reacts like I’m in danger when a man is hitting on me.  On the rare occasion I even moderately allow the interaction to continue, I’m in a constant discussion and renegotiation with myself about whether or not this person wants to rape and/or kill me.  I never fully allowed myself to think about it in those terms until I read this blog.  I always chose to blame myself instead – that I’m shy, insecure, confidence-lacking – but what she had to say really resonated.  I think a part of me works on the basic assumption that men want to cause me physical harm until strong evidence proves otherwise.

As a heterosexual female, might I say, that really blows.

It’s come to the surface over the course of the last year or so in intimate situations.  As I’ve insinuated (read: declared awkwardly more times than appropriate), it’s been a very long time since I’ve slept with anyone. Well over a year. But twice in that time I’ve had the opportunity to go forth and have stopped things dead in the water, and I think a huge part of that is not the clichéd, “fear of intimacy,” but literally fear of the man himself.

Interestingly, there’s something else these two occasions had in common that all other previous sexual interactions had not: I was sober.  I’ve made a couple of regrettable and/or potentially dangerous sexual decisions in my life – slept with someone in a relationship, taken a man home I barely knew, etc. – but I was never hindered by any driving fear on those occasions.  I didn’t feel great about the decisions in the morning, or when they didn’t call, or when their Myspace profiles (yes, Myspace… it was a while ago) informed me they were in a relationship just weeks after I got “I’m not ready for a relationship…” but at least I wasn’t laden in fear in the moment.

But then again, I had STD scares and even a cervical cancer scare after many of the “one-nights” I’ve had, and have sat sobbing in my therapist’s arm chair about whether the test would come back positive or negative… so perhaps that fear just gets transmuted, postponed.  But at least in the moment, with alcohol in my body, when sex became available I didn’t suddenly break away, frozen in terror of that destructive thing they carry around in their pants, afraid of their advances and aggression, of the sheer maleness of them.

I realize it’s a good thing to be able to listen to my body clearly and cogently, to know when I don’t feel ready, but at the same time, I’m a pretty, 28 year old, single woman with no sex life to speak of, and feel like I should be able to just enjoy the experience when it arises… so to speak.  It makes me feel inadequate, hyper sensitive, immature, child-like… like I still haven’t learned how to play the game, and I’m still afraid of the stadium.

My only hope is that should I finally find myself dating someone, and if he can manage to wait until I’ve garnered enough evidence in his favor, that “love” – whatever that means – will allay my terror.  For love or alcohol, I think it’s a far more rosy ideal to choose love… if it ever manages to find me.



  1. Thanks for posting this, and the link to the other blog! Men don’t realize that women are constantly assessing the threat level of every situation. They don’t have to look over their shoulder like we do or worry about being harassed on the street/in the elevator/on the subway/[insert location here]. The very real fear of men makes it hard to find a worthy dating partner. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for how to solve fear of physical harm vs. desire for love problem, but thank you for writing about this. And I hope you do meet someone – you’re a great woman who deserves love!

  2. I felt and sometimes feel the same way, Darlin’. My first “sex” dream was more like a rape dream and it scared me to no end that I was turned on my that strangeness. And then when I developed so quickly (I was a tall 13 year old with huge boobs) I was not ready for the very forward advances of grown men and I was afraid of them. My own physical insecurities carried over into my adult life.

    I also think my coping mechanism was love, not alcohol. I figured they must love me a little to have sex with me…I know I did. But they didn’t, and I realized it was the sex I really enjoyed, not the false idea of love (that was wicked painful actually, and I let my guard down too easily and was not safe with them)

    That is what actually empowered me. I know what I liked, I knew how to be safe so I do what I want. When actually faced with someone who loved me I pushed him away for a long time..not sexually of course, but emotionally until I knew he was “safe”. And he was…for a few years before he became a lying sack of shit..but that is probably a whole ‘nother issue.

    Its good that you know what you need. Now you can go out with confidence and get it. And if that means holding out til you feel safe, so be it. Those are the only fellows worth our time anyway.

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