My first serious relationship took me by surprise, it wasn’t something I’d been looking for, and I definitely didn’t expect anything to materialised with the man who later became my boyfriend of nearly 3 years. The relationship just seemed to happen, we didn’t even discuss whether it was something we wanted or were ready for. We spent most of our free time together, alternating between each other’s homes, until we decided to move in together.
Sex didn’t really play a huge role in our relationship. I know he had hoped for more sexual intimacy, however I was still young and found the whole process to be quite painful and uncomfortable; I was unhappy with the way my body looked and tried very hard to conceal the parts of me I disliked. At no point had we every really discussed roles or status in our relationship; he naturally assumed the (typically assigned at birth dependant on gender) roles of male breadwinner, while I assumed the role of domestic Goddess (although I still worked). Our roles in the bedroom also mirrored societies expected norms.
It wasn’t until 2 years into our relationship, when we agreed upon a brief ‘parting’, in which we both went about doing our own thing whilst living apart. It was during this time that I discovered myself in a more sexual way. I became liberated and was able to let go of the psychological hindrances that were holding me back. Mainly the fear of rejection from a partner – I believe this is why people may cheat on their spouses. It’s much easier to admit your fantasies and desires to a stranger whose judgment you don’t fear, than it is to admit to a partner who may reject you. The same was true for my partner; while we enjoyed our brief separation, he too had been able to experience the sexual desires he found most gratifying.
We were both quite young, barely in our 20’s and with little experience between us. After we reunited, he was unwilling to admit his new self-discovery to me, so I resorted to my own form of espionage. When I raised the subject with him, he was quite uncomfortable, however he eventually admitted his new found experiences and desires. Believing at the time that I was in love, we tried to adapt our relationship to satisfy both our needs for intimacy. It was a struggle, and ultimately our relationship ended. We were no longer compatible, our relationship had come to a natural end, and I’m glad to say there is no animosity between us.
At the time we began our relationship we were both naïve, inexperienced and unsure of who we were or what we wanted. As an adult, I am now somewhat surer of myself, and what I want from life. In the time since my first relationship, whenever I enter into a new encounter with a possible suitor, I always raise the issue of sexual desires and expectations. I come from quite a liberal family background, where sex was discussed often. I want to ensure future ventures aren’t going to end abruptly with the discovery that we’re not compatible in bed, or worse, have a partner who cheats on me to fulfil his desires.
I’m not saying we should all walk about with badges that describe our sexual orientation or role, but I do think in this blurred world that is still not openly accepted by wider society, we cannot simply guess that an individual will take an ascribed role. There are many variations of personalities, character traits and desires for individuals; individuality that should be celebrated, but amidst those celebrations we need to find a way of communicating what we truly want. This isn’t applicable to all relationships, some never reach a romantic level, but for those that do I believe it is better to know that both partners are walking the same path to reach their destination.