Get Real! Am I Stupid for Loving a Guy Who Only Wants Sex?

Heather Corinna

You can have conflicting feelings about someone but loving and being loved is about honoring and celebrating who we are and what we want.

Cede101 asks:

So there is this guy that I really really like. I don’t know how to get to him without having to put myself out there. He says he cares but then when we are with our friends he won’t even talk to me. When we are alone he is always by me but wants to do anything other than talk, it seems like he only wants sex. We messed around once but I don’t know what to do now. Am I stupid for falling in love with him and pretty much doing anything so that he will stay closer to me?

Heather Corinna replies:

I don’t know about you, but the times I call myself things like stupid are times I feel really bad about myself, usually for doing something I don’t feel good about. Then I call myself something like that and I feel even worse, and have an even harder time making choices that are about being kind to myself, because I’m being really mean to me. So, I try to avoid calling myself that and when I do, work hard to walk it to the rubbish bin and throw that word away, recognizing that I’m not stupid and that putting myself down isn’t anything close to helpful. I suggest you do the same thing.

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I don’t think you’re stupid. I think the kinds of feelings you are having can be really confusing and tough to navigate, for all of us, but especially when we’re new to them. The feelings we have for someone like this are also sometimes in conflict with the way they treat us: as weird as it can seem, sometimes we can feel really into someone who, when we check in with our heads, it doesn’t make any sense to feel that into. Romantic or sexual feelings are often illogical and we don’t always have them for people who feel the same way or, who do, but still aren’t a good choice for us to try and have relationships with. Having certain feelings doesn’t always make us, or anyone else, capable or enacting them in healthy or reasonable ways.

I want to start by making some distinctions. It sounds like, as you say, you really, really like this guy. It sounds like you have romantic and maybe sexual feelings for this guy. Okay. But I’m not hearing anything in this that sounds like love to me.

Love is a lot bigger and more complex than like or feeling in love, and involves things we have to mutually build like trust, respect and compassion. When we have love and share love, we’re taking care of each other. When we feel love, we’re wanting to care for someone else but also care for ourselves, not treat ourselves poorly or put ourselves in situations where we feel bad about ourselves or let someone else make us feel bad. We also have to know people deeply to love them, so it’d be difficult to have love for someone who won’t even talk with us and really let us in. I can’t say love is easy, because it can be really challenging, but it’s not this variety of push-me-pull-me hard. Lastly, love tends to feel really good, not bad like this. I think it can help to make those distinctions because if we want to love and feel love, we need to know what it looks and feels like to find and nurture it, and this ain’t it.

Usually, I’m the one who creates the titles to these pieces and adds tags, but you wrote out both yourself. You say this guy only wants sex, and you added some tags to this post: abused, discarded, hard, hurtful, used and wanting only one thing. That all doesn’t sound like what he wants or the way he’s been treating you has left you feeling very good. That certainly doesn’t sound like anything resembling love, and those aren’t words or feelings we’d tend to associate with healthy, happy relationships.

From the way you titled and tagged your question and from what you’re saying here, it sounds to me like you know this person isn’t available to you for what you want. It also sounds like this guy may want things that you don’t and you may want things he doesn’t. To boot, it sounds like this person isn’t treating you very well sometimes and you’re also not treating yourself very well.

You ask about doing “pretty much anything” so he will stay — get? — closer to you, and what I think about that. My answer is that it depends on what you mean.

You say you don’t know how to get to him without putting yourself out there. Anytime we want to pursue something with someone else, especially an intimate relationship, and make clear what we want, we’ll need to put ourselves out there. That’s not unreasonable, since none of us are mind-readers.

If you mean doing things like telling him how you feel and what you want, I don’t think that’s stupid at all: that’s what we will usually need to do with people. If you mean things like spending time with him if he is treating you with respect and care (not just saying he cares), asking him to talk with you, having any kind of sex that you also really want to have, on your own terms and not just because that’s what someone else wants, or organizing a midnight ukelele serenade to demonstrate your affection, I think those kinds of things are just fine to do with or for someone who we have good reason to believe is or will be receptive to them and would also do the same kinds of things for or with you.

On the other hand, if you mean things like messing around and/or having any kind of sex you don’t want, putting up with being treated like you don’t exist when there are other people around, asking to talk again and again and having him only answer that by putting his hand in your pants, or jumping off the Empire State Building to demonstrate your feelings, I’d say that’s not so wise (and also dangerous, especially that bit with the building). Those are not the kinds of things we should have to do so someone will be interested in us or spend time with us, and aren’t the kinds of things that are going to net us anything positive. Those are things we do when we’re not caring for ourselves and are allowing others to treat us with equal carelessness.

If and when you only want a sexual relationship with someone who wants that, that can be just fine. But when only one person wants that and the other wants something else, it’s a recipe for heartbreak. I don’t know if it’s true that all he wants from you is sex. But some of the ways he’s behaving make it seem that way, don’t sound caring or respectful and — no surprise here — you’re feeling pretty lousy. You’re feeling bad and know you feel bad, but it sounds like you’re not taking care of yourself by recognizing that and getting away from it so that you don’t feel that way anymore.

Now, I don’t know why it is that you like this guy, since despite him saying he cares about you now and then, the way he’s treating you in front of others doesn’t reflect that. Someone who ignores me in public and will only make moves on me when I want to talk and be seen in a bigger way doesn’t sound very awesome to me. But I’m sure you have your reasons for liking him. All the same, even if there are things about this guy to like and fall for, I think there is compelling evidence that trying to press on with him wouldn’t make you happy.

There are going to be people in our lives we have certain feelings for and want certain kinds of relationships with. But having those feelings and wanting those relationships alone doesn’t mean all those folks will be available for those relationships — literally or emotionally — or will be the right people for us to pursue those relationships with. One bare basic for them being the right kind of people is them demonstrating clear interest in sharing what we want. One bare basic for knowing they are not sound people to pursue relationship with is them showing clear disinterest in what we want, or us feeling clear disinterest in what they do. If you feel pretty sure this guy only wants sex and know that’s not what you want, you’ve got a clear demonstration of disinterest on his part for what you want and a clear knowledge of your own disinterest in what he does. If he’s refusing to acknowledge your presence with friends, that’s another clear signal of disinterest in any kind of love or care for you.

Sometimes we can fall in love with falling in love. In other words, we can get so wrapped up in the feelings, ideas or fantasies of what being in love is or could be that we stop clearly seeing — or never do in the first place — what’s really going on and who the person really is we’re projecting those feelings or wishes unto. Even when those feelings really hurt, we can get a little lost in that hurt, because it’s a powerful feeling, and maybe we just want to feel something powerful, even if it sucks. Some people also grew up with the idea that love relationships are only real if they hurt, a terrible idea that’s also not at all true.

It’s also easy sometimes to get caught up in the pursuit of someone who is resisting us or what we want: it can seem like if we can get them to change their tune, and fall magically in love with us, get them to start behaving like we want them to, then we’ll have won and proven both our own worth and the worth of our wants and feelings.

Bzzzt. Loving and being loved is about honoring and celebrating who we are and what we want. Loving someone and being loved isn’t about trying to get someone to act like a different person than they are or getting them to feel or want something they don’t: that’s actually just as ooky in some ways as trying to get someone to have sex they don’t want to have. When a love relationship is right and is most likely to go well, no one will need to be dragged to it kicking and screaming, and no one will have to do things they don’t want to in the meantime, or be treated like crap, in order to make a love relationship happen. If any of those things are going on, we can be sure that love was either never there in the first place or that its train has since left the station.

Who knows, maybe this guy has some maturity he needs to grow before he’s ready for a relationship with you (or anyone) where he doesn’t behave badly. Maybe he has troubles communicating and needs to work on that. If either of those things are true, they’ll take a good deal of time and work he does for himself, by himself. They’re not likely to happen in the next few days, weeks or even months.

Maybe he just doesn’t feel about you how you feel about him and that’s not going to change ever. Or maybe he’s just a stinker and that won’t change, either. Whatever the reason, it seems clear he’s not ready for or interested in what you want and need now and clear that you feel crappy in this. You can fix that easily by letting this go and moving towards the kinds of people and relationships that you really want and that make you feel good.

I think you, like anyone, are going to be best served investing your heart and time in someone who makes you feel good right from the start and throughout, not bad, who treats you with care — rather than just saying they care, while not matching those words with actions — who wants the things you want and feels the way about you that you feel about them. It sounds like this isn’t someone with whom you’re likely to find any of that, so I’d suggest you cut your losses now and walk away. If you don’t know of anyone in your life right now who makes you feel good who you have romantic feelings for, that’s okay. There isn’t always someone like that in any of our lives at any given time, but life goes on because romantic relationships are only one kind of relationship and one part of our lives. Better to hold out for the good stuff than make ourselves miserable with something substandard at best, and really awful or toxic, at worst.

One thing I’d suggest that you do to figure this out, and to have better luck moving forward in romantic relationships, is to take some time to think about what you really want. Obviously, you don’t want to be treated like an object or a ghost. It also sounds like right now, one thing you know you don’t want is a relationship that’s only about sex. But what do you want? So many people get so frustrated with not finding or getting what they want in relationships, but when you ask what they want, they can only say what they don’t want. It’s hard to find and co-create what we want if we don’t know what that is, and it’s easier to get what we want — and get good at ditching what we know isn’t it — if we can have a clear idea of what that is and then put that out there to others clearly. That way, we can ask if they want what we do, and if they say no or that they aren’t sure (or won’t answer at all), we can know to get gone before we get invested.

I’m going to leave you with a few links that I think might help you in that process and in sorting out if this deal with this guy is really worth any more of your time and your heart (even though I bet you already know the answer):

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: The Sexually Transmitted Infections Edition

Martha Kempner

A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Zika May Have Been Sexually Transmitted From a Woman to Her Male Partner

A new case suggests that males may be infected with the Zika virus through unprotected sex with female partners. Researchers have known for a while that men can infect their partners through penetrative sexual intercourse, but this is the first suspected case of sexual transmission from a woman.

The case involves a New York City woman who is in her early 20s and traveled to a country with high rates of the mosquito-borne virus (her name and the specific country where she traveled have not been released). The woman, who experienced stomach cramps and a headache while waiting for her flight back to New York, reported one act of sexual intercourse without a condom the day she returned from her trip. The following day, her symptoms became worse and included fever, fatigue, a rash, and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she visited her primary-care provider and tests confirmed she had the Zika virus.

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A few days after that (seven days after intercourse), her male partner, also in his 20s, began feeling similar symptoms. He had a rash, a fever, and also conjunctivitis (pink eye). He, too, was diagnosed with Zika. After meeting with him, public health officials in the New York City confirmed that he had not traveled out of the country nor had he been recently bit by a mosquito. This leaves sexual transmission from his partner as the most likely cause of his infection, though further tests are being done.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for preventing Zika have been based on the assumption that virus was spread from a male to a receptive partner. Therefore the recommendations had been that pregnant women whose male partners had traveled or lived in a place where Zika virus is spreading use condoms or abstain from sex during the pregnancy. For those couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, the CDC recommended that men who had traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks and had symptoms of the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after their trip. It also suggested that men who traveled but don’t have symptoms use condoms for at least eight weeks.

Based on this case—the first to suggest female-to-male transmission—the CDC may extend these recommendations to couples in which a female traveled to a country with an outbreak.

More Signs of Gonorrhea’s Growing Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the CDC released new data on gonorrhea and warned once again that the bacteria that causes this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

There are about 350,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, but it is estimated that 800,000 cases really occur with many going undiagnosed and untreated. Once easily treatable with antibiotics, the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily gained resistance to whole classes of antibiotics over the decades. By the 1980s, penicillin no longer worked to treat it, and in 2007 the CDC stopped recommending the use of fluoroquinolones. Now, cephalosporins are the only class of drugs that work. The recommended treatment involves a combination of ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin) and azithromycin (an oral antibiotic).

Unfortunately, the data released last week—which comes from analysis of more than 5,000 samples of gonorrhea (called isolates) collected from STI clinics across the country—shows that the bacteria is developing resistance to these drugs as well. In fact, the percentage of gonorrhea isolates with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin increased more than 300 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent).

Though no cases of treatment failure has been reported in the United States, this is a troubling sign of what may be coming. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in a press release: “It is unclear how long the combination therapy of azithromycin and ceftriaxone will be effective if the increases in resistance persists. We need to push forward on multiple fronts to ensure we can continue offering successful treatment to those who need it.”

HPV-Related Cancers Up Despite Vaccine 

The CDC also released new data this month showing an increase in HPV-associated cancers between 2008 and 2012 compared with the previous five-year period. HPV or human papillomavirus is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC believes most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives. Many cases of HPV clear spontaneously with no medical intervention, but certain types of the virus cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and neck.

The CDC’s new data suggests that an average of 38,793 HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed each year between 2008 and 2012. This is a 17 percent increase from about 33,000 each year between 2004 and 2008. This is a particularly unfortunate trend given that the newest available vaccine—Gardasil 9—can prevent the types of HPV most often linked to cancer. In fact, researchers estimated that the majority of cancers found in the recent data (about 28,000 each year) were caused by types of the virus that could be prevented by the vaccine.

Unfortunately, as Rewire has reported, the vaccine is often mired in controversy and far fewer young people have received it than get most other recommended vaccines. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of young people in this age group had received the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

In response to the newest data, Dr. Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, told HealthDay:

In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer. Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe.

Making Inroads Toward a Chlamydia Vaccine

An article published in the journal Vaccine shows that researchers have made progress with a new vaccine to prevent chlamydia. According to lead researcher David Bulir of the M. G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at Canada’s McMaster University, efforts to create a vaccine have been underway for decades, but this is the first formulation to show success.

In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the United States. While this bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, it often goes undiagnosed because many people show no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes or uterus and ultimately result in infertility.

The experimental vaccine was created by Canadian researchers who used pieces of the bacteria that causes chlamydia to form an antigen they called BD584. The hope was that the antigen could prompt the body’s immune system to fight the chlamydia bacteria if exposed to it.

Researchers gave BD584 to mice using a nasal spray, and then exposed them to chlamydia. The results were very promising. The mice who received the spray cleared the infection faster than the mice who did not. Moreover, the mice given the nasal spray were less likely to show symptoms of infection, such as bacterial shedding from the vagina or fluid blockages of the fallopian tubes.

There are many steps to go before this vaccine could become available. The researchers need to test it on other strains of the bacteria and in other animals before testing it in humans. And, of course, experience with the HPV vaccine shows that there’s work to be done to make sure people get vaccines that prevent STIs even after they’re invented. Nonetheless, a vaccine to prevent chlamydia would be a great victory in our ongoing fight against STIs and their health consequences, and we here at This Week in Sex are happy to end on a bit of a positive note.