With more and more women coming forward about issues of sexual misconduct, it's becoming increasingly clear that rape culture impacts every level of relationships. As a society, we have been conditioned to believe that predatory "locker room" talk is simply something that has to be expected and endured and that discomfort is an inevitable part of engaging in relationships. These are untruths rooted in an unjust system. If you are experiencing these red flags, you're not comfortable with your partner, likely because of the social conditioning that both of you have been brought up in. It does not have to be this way.
You deserve to be in a relationship that is supportive of who you are and what you want out of life. You deserve to be in a relationship that bolsters you and makes you feel stronger. Any alternative is going to be a source of discomfort and will deplete your vital force.
Fortunately, there is potential for healing whether with your partner or on your own. It begins with identifying what is making you uncomfortable and speaking with honesty. If your partner is not hearing you, then you can find someone who will. If you're experiencing one of these signs, then you are uncomfortable within your relationship, and it's not your fault. But you do have the power to make a change:
1. You Are Anxious
There's a difference between butterflies in your stomach on a first date and paralyzing anxiety, says psychotherapist and dating expert Allison Abrams. "Listen to your body as well, meaning be aware of any uncomfortable sensations that signal a fear response," she says.
What does a fear response feel like? Well, it's basically that pit in your stomach that's telling you to run. Acute stress can make it harder to make clear decisions, but understand that your body is telling you everything that you need to know. You don't need to provide a case for your discomfort. Your feelings are valid, and you deserve to be listened to.
2. One Or Both Of You Are Engrossed In Your Phone
"The focus should be on you, not the phone," says Abrams. If the person you are with is more concentrated on their phone than on you as a person, then it means they aren't engaging with you.
If your date is not engaging with you, then they're less likely to hear you when you express discomfort, either verbally or nonverbally. And if you are burying your head in your phone, then it might be a way of avoidance coping. If you're using your phone to shield yourself from your partner or as a passive way of placing distance between yourself and them, it might be because they are doing something that is making you uncomfortable. (And on the flip side, you might be less likely to hear your partner this way if they express discomfort.) You might not even be recognizing this discomfort because of the degree of social conditioning you have experienced. If you suspect that your partner is doing something that makes you feel ill at ease, keep track of your responses to find your answer.
3. You Feel Your Boundaries Are Not Respected
"Your feelings around physical intimacy should always be respected — whether on a first date or in a relationship," says Abrams.
With that being said, you don't have to have sex or any physical contact whatsoever if you aren't comfortable with it. If you feel uncomfortable asserting your boundaries, then it might be because you think this person will not respect them. That's either because of something they have done to you in the past, or another experience that you have had that you are now relating to this person.
If you experience hesitation about engaging in physical intimacy with someone and they don't listen, then it's natural that you would be feeling anxious. Disengage from the relationship. There are plenty of people who are capable of listening. It's not only on you to make yourself heard.
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