What does ‘no’ mean?

Aug 16, 2000 at 12:00 am
Q: My high-school sweetheart and I resumed a sexual relationship about three months ago. I love him still and find it hard to say no to him when the issue of sex comes up. We recently went for a walk in the park. I found it very romantic and sweet at first. We began to kiss and neck while walking, but things got a little out of hand. The next thing I knew, his hands were down my pants. I told him I did not want to have sex and just wanted to be with him for a little while. He claimed he understood and let the issue drop. We walked for a little while longer and then went back to the car. Once we got there he began to kiss me. I did not protest because I had no problem with kissing him as long as he understood there would be no sex that night. Eventually he talked me into letting him penetrate me just once. I know how guys are and was skeptical, but I allowed him to do so only after I got a promise that he would stop. Once he was inside I told him to pull out and to stop. He did not stop as I asked. Instead he tried to coax me into sex. I feel I must tell you I did enjoy the penetration and I was extremely turned on, but I never stopped telling him — even through my gasps and slight moans — that I wanted to stop. When I realized he was not going to stop I became serious and told him to stop, but by the time this happened he was already achieving orgasm. I became very angry and told him to take me home. I have not called him and he has not tried to contact me since that night. Do you think I have the right to feel violated? Do you think I expressed myself clearly? Could I have given him the wrong idea because I was moaning in response to his actions? I don't think he would hurt me this way on purpose. I just can't shake the feeling that I did everything I needed to do to stop what was happening. Maybe I should have been more clear about what I wanted or what I did not want? I don't have anyone to share this with and I can't stop thinking about it. I just need to know if my feelings are warranted or if I'm just being oversensitive.

A: Do you have the right to feel violated? You have the right to feel what you feel, no matter what anyone else might say to the contrary. Did you express yourself clearly? If you only "became serious" once intercourse was under way, perhaps not. Could your moans of pleasure have given him the wrong idea? Certainly. Nonetheless, if you are left feeling violated, then it might help you to talk with a trained volunteer on a rape crises line as well as with the guy himself and perhaps get some settlement on the issue. Was there something more you might have done to avoid this or avoid anything like this is the future? You alone have that answer.

Q: I am a 36-year-old male. My wife was killed in a car accident not too long ago. I am currently walking a long and difficult road, seeing therapists and being supported by friends and family. Although I am not yet ready for this, I would like to ask you something for my future information. I read in your column about various specialized groups for meeting people or sharing intimacy or sex, whether they be fetish groups or any other group with a communality. Are there any such groups for people who have suffered a loss this young in life, especially a traumatic and unexpected loss (as opposed to a prolonged period of dying)? To put it bluntly but honestly, I will be looking to seek companionship (yes, sexual) with others around my age who have suffered a similar loss. A tall order, I know, but if you have any suggestions I would be very grateful.

A: Many hospitals, churches, temples and even some individual therapists advertise groups for the bereaved. Ask around. Certainly the subject of new sexual connections is likely to come up in any of them. The best way I know of, however, to join a very specifically composed group is to start one yourself. Place an ad, perhaps in several different papers, with your targeted specifications and see who calls. Make it happen. It's wonderful practice for everything else in life as well. Isadora Alman is a licensed marriage counselor and a board-certified sexologist. You can reach her online at her Sexuality Forum (www.askisadora.com) or by writing to her care of this paper. Alas, she cannot answer questions