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Each match made me panic as I imagined explaining my situation to someone. I could hardly even listen to friend’s stories of sexual escapades without feeling like my stomach was going to fall out of my body.
All I could think about was the disappointment that I would cause and the disappointment that I would feel after yet another failed dating attempt.
And the pain and humiliation of my first two attempts at sex made the prospect of any kind of intimacy (even self-exploration) extremely unappealing.
In fact, by the time I was diagnosed, I recoiled even when a man flirtatiously touched my arm or complimented me in a suggestive way.
I have slept with ice on my vagina, tried electric shock therapy and acupuncture, brought my heating pad with me everywhere I go, and used a dilator every morning before work.
I have tried to cut out red meat, given up gluten, signed up for more yoga classes, and bought exclusively cotton underwear.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted, other than to feel like a normal 23-year-old going on dates. As several friends and fellow sufferers over the years had pointed out, oral sex exists.
I studied each guy’s five-picture collection and tried to look for clues in them as to whether or not they would be accepting of my issues. But the feeling of arousal was so often accompanied by emotional distress that I never wanted to try.
All I could do, during our routine discussion of our jobs and our interests, was nod my head at the right times and laugh when it seemed appropriate.I wanted to date and feel normal, but the problem was that I wasn’t normal – not in the sexual sense anyway.It was a Saturday night, and I had somehow convinced myself to go on another date.But I never bothered to ask them how that would work when I flinched at the mere touch of a man.
They told me there was more to relationships than just sex.My “sexual experience” consisted of doctors poking and prodding me and men looking disappointed at me for something I couldn’t explain or help.My doctors told me I could have a sexual experience in other ways.Over the years, people have been quick to write off my vaginal pain conditions as me being a tease or as anxiety stemming from past sexual trauma.