My straight friends will not stop talking about boys. Specifically, if they have boyfriends: How awful their boyfriends and sex lives are (in excruciating detail). If they don’t have boyfriends, it’s all stuff like the latest japanese dating sim they’ve found, and how hot the (disturbingly, rapey) plot lines are and dick in general, to me, a Lesbian.
With the boyfriend thing, it’s always about how condescending/annoying/lazy/useless their boyfriends are, or how horrible they are in bed, how much vaginal sex hurts/is boring, and when I say: Then why don’t you break up with him? They gasp and clutch their pearls and subject me to another tirade about how he is really a Nice Guy and he’s been getting SO much better since they told him all his problems and he folded one whole shirt this week! Without being asked! So I’m being cruel/judgmental/I don’t know what I’m talking about, telling them to break up with him. Yet, next week, they’ll have the same complaints and no matter how much I try and change the subject, I have to hear about how she is allergic to his semen and also, can’t walk right for days after they do it because it’s so excruciatingly painful (but it’s okay, she really wants it! Not having a horribly painful experience/vaginal sex, isn’t an option because she wants that /connection/ with him).
My straight friends that don’t have boyfriends make dick jokes constantly, talk about how hot guys are, try and show me nude pictures of dudes they’ve drawn, etc. In one-on-one conversations with me! A lesbian! Who has said many times, I do not care about that stuff or the entire, 20 minute plot description of the anime episode you just watched, where it’s really cute/funny when main male character sneaks up behind female characters and grabs their boobs. Not only am I disgusted, I am bored out of my mind, and feel extremely alienated.
The few lesbians I’ve talked to about this online, say this is exactly the reason why they do not hang out/are no longer close friends with straight woman, because stuff like this always happens eventually, and no matter how often you tell them that you don’t want to hear about their disturbing heterosexual shenanigans, they will not listen to you. But I love so many of these crazy woman dearly, and I find I can hardly accept not-being-friends with any straight woman, ever again, because most woman are straight woman! Do you have any advice how to handle this without starting a whole new social group from scratch? And excluding myself from caring about the majority of woman in this country?
Confused And Grossed Out
I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve never giggled while swapping harrowing Tales of the D with a close female friend, especially when I was much younger and sex was a brand new experience, but fortunately my experience also tells me that one can have close friends of all genders and orientations for multiple decades without ever, ever, ever knowing a single thing about how they and their partners Do It. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you need cooler friends who have some home training and more in common with you. It’s not cool to keep talking about explicit subjects when someone has asked you not to, and showing you naked pictures of dudes when they know it bugs you is straight-up trolling. I think it’s possible that some of your friends are doing a gross, homophobic, bullying sort of thing with their behaviors and I’m not here for it.
So, my #1 recommendation is for you to seek out other social spaces so that these friends aren’t your only friends and so you can try hanging with them in smaller doses. Try looking for MeetUps or activities based around a specific hobby/sport/creative pastime so there is plenty of stuff to talk about as you get to know new folks. Try looking for LGBTQ-friendly spaces, especially if you haven’t specifically done so until now.
In the meantime, when you do see your current friends, your scripts are simple but not easy:
- “This is not interesting to me.”
- “I don’t enjoy hearing about dude problems.”
- “That’s repulsive. Please stop talking about it.”
- “Why are you telling me this.”
- “Hey, Captain Overshare, I’m eating.”
- “Subject change please.”
- “It’s okay to be obsessed with boys, I guess, but I’m not the right audience for that.”
- “When I tell you I don’t want to hear something, why do you keep talking?”
- “What does it take to get a subject changed around here?”
I know you’ve already been saying this stuff, so I’ll suggest an addition. When your friends start holding forth, try a strategy of redirecting twice and then bailing on the conversation if nothing changes. How it works:
Them: “My boyfriend’s di-“
You: “-Yikes! Stop right there!” (Yes, straight up interrupt them before they get going)
Them: “Aw! Don’t be like that! I was just going to tell you how his di-“
You: “Seriously! Let’s have a subject change. I don’t like hearing the details about that stuff.”
Them: Something something something that translates as “But that’s literally the only thing I can talk about!“
You: “Well, good seeing you, but I really don’t want to hear this.” And go. Leave the table, leave the room, leave the conversation, maybe leave the building. For explicit images, don’t even wait to redirect them. Just walk away and don’t look at them. You can verbally communicate a boundary, but what makes it a boundary is following through with consequences if the person doesn’t respect the stated limit. Sorry in advance for all the times you’ll end up walking away from a still-warm burrito or half-full beer because your friends are being assholes.
One effect this will have is that you will be able to tell the People Who Can Be Reasoned With from the Assholes Who Enjoy Making You Uncomfortable fairly quickly. Good friends will apologize and better yet, they will change how they behave around you. Those people can be followed up with alone or in small groups, to cement the friendship away from the assholes. Oblivious people who can’t be counted on will continue showering you with gory details and unwanted nude images. I understand your reluctance to test out which kind of person you are dealing with, on suspicion that more of your current social group are the latter kind, but what you have is less a “straight women talk about nothing but dudes” problem than a “I keep telling my friends that a certain topic makes me uncomfortable, but they won’t listen or believe me” problem.
I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s not fair that you should have to contemplate losing your social group because people won’t act right.
Moderation Note: Sometime in the night, this thread reached Peak Derail. Thanks to everyone who contributed a constructive, on-topic observation, and I’m glad the LW got what they needed.
305 thoughts on “#715: “I am not here for your talk of boys.””
“because stuff like this always happens eventually,” o.O How OLD are these people? Actual question. Because this is all very bizarre to me, a straight ADULT.
Well, yeah. I’m a straight woman, and these sorts of conversations are just not a big part of my life. I have friends I’ve known 20 years and I have only a sketchy knowledge of their sexual habits. When they started having babies, there was a lot more body-talk around for a bit, but that was limited unless I was moved to ask questions (I didn’t tell them when I started trying for a child myself, but the conversations were easier to partake in at that point). Then I got pregnant, and I got the details they’d been shielding me from. Weirdly, some of my female work colleagues were also fascinated by that stuff, despite none of them being interested in having babies, to my knowledge. But even the ones that asked about that stuff in an open plan office do not discuss their partners’ body parts.
The realistic mums brigade has had frank chats about childcare issues that would not pass muster as polite conversation with someone not also dealing with nappies, and some discussion about that weird thing when you achieve a balanced, 21st Century sharing of chores until you spend 6 months or longer at home with the baby and suddenly all the tasks you did because you were home all day are Yours Forever*. But not with non-parents, for the most part. These people are supposed to be your friends, why do that to them?
OP: get better friends, not all straight women do this. Although most of them *will* complain about the chore thing, you can avoid the random body talk easily. Men embrace the whole ‘Boys don’t do chores’ part of sexism nearly as enthusiastically as they embrace the ‘I know more and should be paid more’ part. You have to train them out of it. But since I’m at one end of the tidy/messy spectrum (beyond me on the tidy side is my mum), I know many women who are far messier than me, and I assume that that sort of mismatch at least occasionally occurs in lesbian relationships too, so I’m assuming it’s less alienating.
*I broke this cycle by going back to work and getting a cleaner.
Could you explain a little more about what you mean with your “You have to train them out of it.” comment?
I’m hoping she means “show/tell them what behavior you find acceptable/unacceptable in someone you are willing to spend time with” i.e. communicating relationship expectations and enforcing boundaries.
First thing I thought of was that song “Can’t Raise a Man”.
With a clicker and a shock collar, just like a dog.
Ouch. Don’t wish to derail, but I’d see anyone who uses a shock collar as guilty of abuse.
Can’t derail a train that’s already off the tracks. Jesus.
Men embrace the whole ‘Boys don’t do chores’ part of sexism nearly as enthusiastically as they embrace the ‘I know more and should be paid more’ part. You have to train them out of it.
Sorry, but I don’t see what’s wrong with Heather’s observation? She is reporting on her lived experience, which is that her partner is a man and, unfortunately, a bit of a sexist douche. She had to put in some effort (“train him”) to curb his douche-y, sexist behavior — i.e., defend her own boundaries around the division of household labor until he got the point.
You are correct that Not!All!Men! are like Heather’s partner, but soooo damn many of them are. So many that it’s a societal problem worthy of discussion, or at least a bit of commiseration. And why do so many men behave this way? Because society says it’s okay, and just going along with the social norm of never lifting a finger around the house takes less energy than helping scrub the toilets.
It is a common and true observation, although I am not a fan of the phrasing about “training” men out of it(it seems to me that living independently and feeling like you have to entertain people from time to time does a lot to curb this kind of behavior). But yea, a lot of men are told that it’s sociallly acceptable to be completely unhygenic/gross(not “disorganized”, actually gross). I do wonder if it’s a generational thing as well-most men my age can cook and keep house(and I’d find it very, very strange if someone I knew had graduated college without being able to cook or clean the bathroom).
I agree. Most of them weren’t “trained” as children, the way young girls are, so they have to learn as adults.
Please train me. Express your desires clearly with words, and provide positive reinforcement when they are met. This is not insulting, this is a wonderful dynamic to have in a relationship.
I understand that it’s common and I’m very sad.
I’m in my mid-fifties, you see, and my parents fought over housework.
And that people young enough to be my children are still having to instruct their adult male partners just makes me want to cry
“You have to train them out of it.”
Um. As a guy who lives on his own, cooks his own meals, and does his own chores*, I do just fine without any “training.” Plenty of my fellow guys do, and while privilege is definitely insidious, implying that we have to be “trained” to pick up after ourselves is just as demeaning and generalizing as saying the chores are “woman’s work.”
Furthermore, for the guys who do live in filth, it should NOT be any woman’s burden to “train” them. Y’all have enough on your plates as is without having to try to change another person (an impossible task) just to bring them up to basic standards. Those boys need to either man up (pardon the expression) and self-improve, or accept that fewer and fewer women will put up with their garbage—in every sense of the term.
* Executive functioning issues aside. Often disorganized, but actual *mess* grosses me out.
This is starting to get a bit off topic but I think you are not actually talking about the same thing? Most men do their chores just fine when on their own, but the issue is not that they don’t know how to do this stuff, it’s that they often stop feeling *responsible* for it once they enter a living arrangement shared with women. I’ve literally never been able to escape this, even with very outspokenly feminist men. And the only way not to find yourself with an ever increasing share of the chores is frequent reminders and clear boundaries, a.k.a. “training”. You can quibble about the word choice, but the phenomenon is quite real.
Ditto. My partner is a very sweet, supportive guy in many respects, and while he has some problematic beliefs, he’s largely aware of most societal problems and deeply opposed to misogyny and sexism.
But chores have been a huge struggle in the 18 months we’ve lived together, and while he’s been getting better about it, he’s still got a long way to go. I’m sure there are men who aren’t like this, but it’s a very common problem – and I grew up surrounded by men who are genuinely invested in equality and women’s rights and who in most other respects are very egalitarian.
Oy, yes. One of my personal biggest sticking points with my ex was that, despite being intellectually well versed in isms and their insidious routes, who’s appreciation for an independent woman seemed real and not just something he was saying, who loved to cook and used to get a lot of shit from his family for doing “women’s work”… somehow I still ended up being almost entirely responsible for household chores, finances, scheduling, and other logistics.
We never resolved it. When our relationship finally split I had half a mind to find him an apartment just to get him out of my damn house.
Ah ok-the times I’ve been in living arrangements with women the rule was pretty much “your personal spaces are your business, communal spaces are cleaned by whoever is using them”. But this was mainly as sublet/roommate situations, so inevitably there there are higher boundaries about personal space and more of a presumption that all parties are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. And there’s less baggage about relationship roles there since presumably the relationship consists of “I pay you money to stay in your apartment” and “we live together to avoid having to pay more in rent”.
Ayupyupyup. My partner did fine when he was living with a male roommate, but as soon as he moved in with me (his female partner) it was all dishes? what dishes? It’s been a decade-long struggle and I don’t think it will ever be fully equitable.
This. It is a thing. It is why I even as I get back into dating after taking a few years off that I worry about what will happen when I next live with a man because time after time after time all the “we’ll be equal!” talk has failed to manifest. It makes me very gun-shy about living with a male romantic partner ever again.
Doing the man’s chores for him or “training” are not the only options. You can also just not move in with him. I know people who don’t live together with their romantic partners, and it works for them. This was also the normal case for the love life of ladies at court in ancient Japan. (It is mentioned in the pillow book of the Lady Sei Shonagon).
Besides, men aren’t dogs. They can “train” themselves, or move out. Or maybe move out until they have trained themselves.
I agree, not living with a guy is a very legit option. I have been with my bf
10+ yrs and will not live with him for this and other reasons. He has finally
accepted that I will probably never live with him. I will not enter into an
unequal arrangement that will make my life less happy. It is interesting how
even in vey progressive conversations about this stuff it is still mostly
assumed that the eventual outcome of a relationship, particularly for women, is
to move in together. But the vast majority of women I meet profess envy about my
situation (although in reality I do believe many of these women would still prefer to
cohabitate for its benefits, of which there are some).
Apologies if this is too much off topic, but the “now I’m in a relationship with a woman I can forget how to do chores,” is absolutely a thing, and is culturally reinforced, and takes work from both partners to fight off, and has been a thing to one degree or another in every single relationship with a dude that I have ever had.
@ uuuuuuh – That’s a very different dynamic, IMO. I think that gender dynamic is often the case in those situations, too, but to a much lesser degree, because you’re not sharing your space/lives in as intimate a manner as romantic partners – who typically share a bedroom, have a significant role in the other’s social life, and split chores (including laundry, meals, etc).
I am a guy who definitely had to be trained out of it. It’s the same kind of training that happens in many different ways when two people with different expectations move in together. My entire life had been spent not needing to see dirt or clutter, and I felt that it wasn’t something that I could do. Then it was pointed out to me that that was sexist, and with enough time and help, this changed for me. The same way you might train a partner that car maintenance isn’t optional, or that a completely clean house isn’t necessary for company. We all come from childhood with some deficiencies, and for some people, but of course Not All, those deficiencies line up along gender lines. Also what’s considered a deficiency is definitely varied, by and within cultures. But I have no problem admitting I was trained.
That was actually my first thought too. In high school, I remember a lot of my friends giggling over showing me risque anime/j-pop stuff, yaoi and the like. They thought my discomfort was hilarious, which was wrong, but also…kinda dumb-teenager stuff. My college roommates were really into it, and sometimes they talked about that stuff too much, but they were better.
These days, I dunno. It would seem bizarre for someone my age, I guess.
Yeah, I was wondering this, as well, as a 40-year old person. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such details about my friends’ relationships. Nor have I volunteered such details about mine. I have one group of friends who tend to share more than most, but it’s not explicit, and if I told them I wasn’t comfortable hearing such details, they’d change the subject.
Hrm. Another vote for better friends with home training, yep.
Right? I think the last time I insisted on talking nitty-gritty sex details with someone who was grossed out by it, I was in high school. /not quite straight, but close enough for government work.
OP, your friends are pretty gross and need to get some manners.
I know, right? What the HELL?
I’m a bi lady partnered with a bi man. I have, at this point, three friends that I ever have remotely in-depth discussion of my or their personal sexual TMI with (and even then it’s not usually all that detailed), and two of them are the two ex-girlfriends I’ve stayed super-close friends with (the last point I was dating either of these lovely ladies was the year 2000). And it’s usually a one-on-one conversation over messenger, and if they said to stop I would, and there is such a tiny handful of conversations like that I have anyway. Like, maybe a few times a year. That is not a conversation I have in group space (outside of the occasional advice/help thread on forums and the like), and I am serious amounts of uncomfortable when a group space I’m in has a conversation like that unless it is clearly labeled as an online space for discussion of That Sort Of Thing. I’d probably nope out and leave the room if it happened in physical space.
I’m also part of a fandom-ish thing that does involve a lot of getting together for the express purpose of Giggling Over Cute Boys and sometimes that gets a bit graphic in our appreciation of their attractiveness. But that’s for fandom spaces and fandom people and I don’t Go There outside of that. And there is ONE person that overlaps that group and the group in the previous paragraph. ONE. (The one I never dated but somehow we’ve become each others’ confessional – love you, sisterbadger, if you’re reading.)
This is weird to me too as a straight adult woman. It just seems very rude to me.
IME, straight women past the age that thinks it invented sex do not talk like this to one another unless they are deliberately trying to ick somebody out. They’re using you as a target for their brand of, um, humor. Drop ’em.
Also, can these poor souls get some self esteem and not feel the need to be attached to such loser guys? >_< This hurts my brain.
Me too, eh? I’m appalled that LW’s friends are having horribly painful PIV intercourse, and that they’re normalizing it for each other. I guess they’re just a symptom of the godawful attitude I find among a lot of people: that sex is something that men want and women provide, and, further, it’s a service that the woman half of a heteronormative couple is required to provide so the man half can have fun.
I feel rotten even summing up the idea. I don’t want young girls (and grown women and adults, for that matter) suffering through awful, painful intercourse they don’t enjoy. I have spent a little time feeling like I was Obliged to Do The Sex or else lose my boyfriend, and it was terrible in every way and I never want to do that again, or have anyone else subscribe to that shitty memo, either.
On the dudesex front, I could not say for sure, but I (an early twenties lady) have observed something like this in some of my guy-dating female friends when we were younger —- complaining about how painful/tiring/bad in general sex with their boyfriends was, but also seeming not to want to do anything about it. BUT in situations where they were less inhibited or around very close friends the complaints mostly vanished, because, as it turned out, they were actually enjoying the sex. It was a combination of wanting to talk about sex a lot, because it was New and Exciting and Adult, but also not wanting to be thought of as a [TW: misogynistic slur] slut. So they had the sex and talked about it, but also about how they were totally just suffering through it. When they aged up a bit, got out of high school, and started to own their sexuality . . . the complaints pretty much stopped, except from one girl who actually did have a jerk boyfriend but has thankfully since broken up with him.
So while the LW’s friends may indeed have jerk boyfriends, at least on the sex front (especially if they’re pretty young) they might really be having fun but complaining as a defense mechanism against possible judgement.
You need a higher caliber of friends who actually care about your feelings more than they want to score gross out points against you. I started having sex at 16, and I’m now 60… I can’t recall EVER discussing sex, the mechanics of sex, mens dicks, or any damned thing about the whole hetero sex act with anybody other than a nurse, during a yearly poke-and-feel exam, for whom I had a question that needed an answer. Ever. Maybe I’m wildly repressed??
I know myself to be extremely repressed! But I’m still fun and cool and stuff! I swear!
And. . . um. . .I do occasionally speak of Teh Sex with some of my close, straight, female friends, but that would be, like, once a month. And mostly these conversations result from me, a vaguely graysexual sort of person, asking for information about a subject that I did not have firsthand experience of.
(Full disclosure: With certain close friends, I do have slightly more frequent and spontaneous conversations about: 1. menfolks we believe to be Attractive [though they tend to be two-line conversations: “This person! I saw him, and he was Attractive!” “Indeed!”] 2. the difficulty of having relationships with dudes. BUT. I also have many straight(-ish?) female friends where NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE EVER UP FOR DISCUSSION! EVER!)
I don’t want to sound shame-y or judgmental, but for many people, sex is not assumed to be open for discussion without explicit confirmation that it’s okay for discussion. I would generally check in several times during a conversation about sex or a similarly intimate topic to make sure that all the comfort zones involved were not being violated.
I am a lady-person who does enjoy sex with boys, and is generally happy to have conversations about sex and relationships, and even to me, what you’re describing sounds REALLY weird and over-the-top. And really, really, unpleasant! I’m sorry 😦
Good news: even though you might lose this particular set of friends, you will not lose All Opportunities For Friendship With Straight Women, because I am one, and most of my friends are, and good Lord, we do not talk like that. So this is definitely not something you just have to live with or else. There are better friends out there!
Seconded. Wow, LW, tons of straight women out there who would not treat you the way these people are treating you. Go forth and find awesome new friends!
As a (generally) straight woman … OMG how disgusting! I wouldn’t want to hang around people who only ever talk about sex and dicks either. This isn’t a Lesbian issue so much as a “they overshare” problem, which makes it Not the LW’s Thing but Their Thing.
I have friendships that go back a decade and we almost never talk about dicks and sex because really, they’re not that relevant to our friendship. LW, your friends are making dicks and sex a relevant part of your friendship and you can totally ask them to stop, because, ew, totally inappropriate (if your friendship isn’t reciprocally based on that).
In short, What the Captain Says.
I don’t know. It sounds like sex and dicks are a really important part of the conversation for this friend group. If the rest of the friends enjoy talking about sex and dicks, I don’t think there’s any harm in it. They just need to do it away from the LW. You can’t really come into a friend group and ask them to change the tenor of all their conversations to suit you, even if you think what they talk about is weird.
Except that they’re doing some of this stuff AT her, not around her.
LW – Some people are puketoads and arsebiscuits, they don’t deserve your company. Find better friends, there’s a whole world of decent people out there.
My BFF, the woman who I’d loved as a sister from age 12-27, was a homophobe. Those last four years (from coming out until she did the terrible thing that ended us) were awful. As I mentioned in the earlier post I flattened my edges, hid my pain, and fake laughed when she said “I’m not homophobic, I’m just scared of gays”.
I pretended to be OK the time that I was in her car and we were giving a lift to her younger sister M and M’s girlfriend, and my ” friend” almost crashed the car in horror when I joked “Hey S, you’re outnumbered!”. I put up with talk of her exploits, her crushes and general talk about men, but she made gagging noises if I even mentioned going out on the scene, or any of my gay acquaintances. She acted like I was fucking women out in the open (despite never being in a relationship!) if I sat too close to one of my gay friends. Oh, and the old ” don’t do/say/wear that around me, I don’t want anyone to think I’m… like you”, like I had ‘DYKE’ tattooed on my face or something.
Some people are gross, they’re rude, and they’re soaking in privilege. You deserve better. FWIW my wife’s having the same issue with sex talk/complaining about their men and sex. She’s 43 and her colleagues are in the 35+ range.
Good luck finding people who respect you, whatever their sexuality.
Except it sounds like she’s been in the friend-group for years. She’s not coming in and changing anything. She’s here, and it’s changing, and she doesn’t want this around her.
LW also said that at least some of this occurs in one-on-one interactions.
Talking about sex and dicks is one thing, talking about horrible sex, and still insisting to continue having the horrible sex, is something different. I think the Captain’s advice on how to deal with people in abusive relationships applies here. (As I recall it is basically “Refuse to talk about the dude/redirect conversation”, so it’s roughly the same anyway.)
It is also somewhat puzzling that they tell this to their lesbian friend when they’re alone with her? Maybe they subconsciously wish for someone to tell them to just get rid of the dude, and know she’s most likely to say that, but they can’t listen to her, because part of them believes they need a boyfriend? It’s the most benevolent explanation I can come up with.
Yeah, I can say as a straight woman that man, my friends and I do not have conversations like this, especially that explicitly EW. This is not something most straight women do, really. You can find other friends.
Oh holy hell, LW, you have a terrible circle of friends — and to be honest, I’m including the other lesbians you’ve talked to in that category! I have no idea how old you and your friends circle are, but for purposes of comparison, I’m 28 and my friends group ranges from mid-20s to mid-30s, with plenty of straight or bi/pan-and-currently-in-a-het-relationship women who DO NOT DO THIS. Ever. Because they’re good friends and also we don’t overshare like that. (Sure, there’s a running joke about leveling my lesbianism up whenever phallic-related grossness comes up, but that’s usually in the context of terrible movies or the Found Footage Festival or similar, not in terms of my friends sharing personal details.)
Don’t give up on straight women — but maybe give up on THESE straight women, because it seems pretty clear that they’re at the very least being really inconsiderate and buying first-class tickets for the TMI train.
Oy. I’m sorry your friends are being so creepy to you. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a straight woman who is still the friend who says “Well, why don’t you break up with him?” when my girlfriends complain about their man too much (especially when their complaints are really tales of abuse, whether they will acknowledge it or not) and gets the shocked look in response. It’s pretty annoying, though I promise #NotAllStraightWomen. Sex should be fun and pleasurable for all parties and if it isn’t, there’s a serious lack of communication happening, at best & at the least.
Anyway, back to my original point, it is very annoying when people complain about their SO. It’s almost like a pastime for some people, not unlike “so how ’bout that local football team?” I get that everyone needs to vent from time to time, but geez, don’t you think you can do any better than this person who apparently grinds your gears constantly? Or lighten up a bit? or both?
ONE OF US. ONE OF US.
Eh I’m…kind of surprised to see this response actually?
Like, if someone is telling “actual tales of abuse,” generally the best response is NOT to just tell them to break up with the abuser. That plays right into the whole thing where abusers tend to undermine the confidence of their victims and get them to question reality, while also alienating them from their friends/family (“no one understaaaaands us,” etc.). It also puts the potential victim in exactly the place the LW’s friends are going to here–defending the partner. In an actual abuse situation, I’d always go with validating and supporting rather than questioning the person’s judgment (e.g., “wow, that sounds like you’re really unhappy. I trust your judgment, what do you think you’re going to do? Do you feel safe?” or similar).
In this case, it doesn’t sound like the LW’s friends are actually talking about abuse, but I also think the LW should stop telling them to break up with their boyfriends for her own sake. As LW has noticed, telling people to break up when they’re not ready generally just leads to the onslaught of justifications. Her friends may even be (consciously or not) seeking her out when they are looking to validate their relationships to themselves, because they know the predictable pattern will happen: I complain about my bf to LW, she “overreacts” and tells me to break up, I get to defend my choice to say with bf.
Even if these women SHOULD break up with their boyfriends, telling them so is clearly getting the LW nowhere. Sometimes a well-placed question about why someone is staying in a relationship can work between close friends, but it’s not working here. For the LW’s friends who have more of the occasional lapse into dude-complaining (rather than surprise-nude-picture-times (yikes)), when LW feels safe/comfortable doing so, I would suggest something more along the lines of both validating and setting a boundary: “wow, that sounds really painful/terrible/unpleasant. I’m sorry you’re going through that, but I’m really not the right audience for these problems. Maybe you should talk to a doctor/therapist/boyfriend himself about that?” Or appeal to the relationship. “That sounds like something between you and Boyfriend, and I’m uncomfortable hearing about it.” Or even “Wow, that sounds rough, but I know you and Boyfriend love each other, I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out.” And if they persist (which a lot of them likely will, these sound like some seriously boundary-impaired individuals), use any of the scripts suggested in the Captain’s original answer. But telling telling them to break up is just going to lead to a boring debate with more opportunities for overshare.
tl;dr asking people why they don’t just break up with their SOs when they aren’t ready to do so is likely to get you a long boring answer you don’t want to hear at best, and actually solidify their sucky relationships at worst because they will feel defensive; do not recommend as a strategy for minimizing unwanted complaining.
You’re absolutely right. The wanting passionately for your friend to dump the loser is more of an inside-voice-inside-your-head thing.
Haha, yeah, I have definitely exercised some EXTREME internal eye-roll in cases like these. Because, good lord.
It’s easy to see when it’s not you, is the message. 😦
The only time I’ve had it work as an outside-my-head voice thing is when the friend GOT DUMPED by the loser and was bemoaning how great their relationship was. At that point I was like, “You realize the only good part about this relationship was the proximity of his apartment to all the good brunch spots?”
I agree. Sounds like the LW has told her friends on multiple occasions to break up with their boyfriends or stop having vaginal sex with them. I don’t think this is her place unless someone is explicitly asking for advice. Plus, if you prolong the conversation about heterosexual sex, you’re undermining the message that you don’t want to talk about heterosexual sex.
Hmm. But I think it works the other way, too – if you talk a lot about heterosexual sex, you’re signaling that you’re okay with other people talking about it, too, including voicing their opinions on what you’re saying.
^^ yes Zillah. What, the Straight Friends are allowed to take a wrecking ball to conversational boundaries and yet the LW has to preserve their delicate feelings at every turn? Nah.
One time a straight girl friend literally said, out of the blue, “I mean, I don’t really like how he just puts down anything I’m interested in or need to do and is just condescending or mean about everything I love… but oh well!” They are now engaged. Multiple times he has screamed at her in front of me. WHAT is this disconnect that makes some straight women settle for this shit?
If my inbox is any indicator, being gay is not an inoculation against abusive relationships.
People of all possible sexual orientations and genders can have an Acceptable Level of Misery Barrier for themselves which is painfully high.
As for where that comes from – some people assume (maybe for lack of role-modelling?) that all relationships carry an inherent quantity of misery – that being sad or afraid is just part of being with somebody. Some people grow up being told, verbally, implicitly or culturally, that their happiness is less important than other people’s. Some people believe that they are the cause of their partner’s behaviour, and therefore their own misery.
The disconnect is in our fairytales and our rom coms and our newspapers and the interactions of the adults around us when we were small and the comments the neighbours make when they don’t know we can hear them and a thousand other things.
It’s like that incredibly incorrect line about sex: “Bad sex is like bad pizza. Still better than no pizza.” Actually that’s also incorrect about pizza, come to think of it. Memo to humanity: having a bad thing is not always better than not having the thing.
@thelittlepakeha Oh my days. That is…not a line I have heard before. That line can take a long walk of a short plank into an ocean of NOPE.
@thelittlepaheka. “Bad sex is like bad pizza. It’s not that great and you should probably just go to the Indian place across the street and get a reallly good lamb biryani or sag paneer instead”.
When my brother’s marriage was breaking up, I asked him what his minimum expectation/hope was for his situation and he said he wanted to come out of this with his antique oak desk. He does not have the desk. Or anything else from that period.
Talk about Acceptable Levels of Misery. Oy.
+1 to that. I’ve seen abusive dynamics between people even in my mainly queer, trans and polyamourous social network. It’s really not about the kind of relationship you have, its whether you’re dating an abuser. One hopes that these communities would have better support and less tolerance for that kind of behaviour, but unfortunately it’s not always the case
Fair point, sorry.
Or, alas, bad sex for that matter. The moral of the story is, don’t settle for either.
Er, I didn’t mean to sound dismissive. But I do think that the beginnings of many an abusive dynamic start with “settling” and other “harmless” compromises.
That disconnect is caused by low self esteem, which happens to people of every orientation. It’s most certainly not limited to straight women.
Well, and also, my experience of being in an abusive relationship is that it just happened to me – there are a few times that I can think of, early on, where I was like, “hmmm, this is not quite right.” And then I decided that logically, I was not a person who would stay with someone who treated me badly, and I was choosing to stay. Therefore there must be no abuse. In retrospect it’s obvious how bad it was from the very start, but when you’re in it, not always so much. And I don’t think it was because of low self esteem on my part or a familial history of abuse. Just how it goes sometimes.
This. The people I know who have been in abusive relationships know perfectly well that they are good, competent people of great value. And they knew when they were in the relationships that they were good etc.
Sometimes a person falls in love with an abuser. Shit happens
Wow, this perfectly explains what happened to me. I’ve been wondering about “How could I not see things/see things and kinda ignore them anyway” since dumping the guy (who then kept on stalking me for 2+ years). Thank you.
I understand your frustration as watching friends suffer and make poor choices is hard. But this comment feels super smug. CA’s comment already addressed that this is not *just* a straight people issue, so I’ll side step that.
Please do not try to figure out why people “allow” themselves to be abused. It’s shifting blame onto the victim and this magical “disconnect” that obviously no one with self esteem or self awareness suffers from. I know it’s comforting to think “as long as I do/am X then I won’t ever find myself in that horrible, shameful situation” but that’s not true. Literally ANYONE can end up in an abusive/dysfunctional relationship.
We all have vulnerabilities and abusers are fantastic at finding them and exploiting them. Plenty of successful, strong folks with great childhoods and high self esteem find themselves in an abusive or dysfunctional relationship. Abusers are tricksters and there are many, many things in their arsenal of psychological destruction. Not to mention the societal advantages of living in a patriarchal society.
Your comments dances dangerously close to the “why doesn’t she just LEAVE” mantra that adds even more shame to the shame tornado that is finding yourself in an abusive relationship.
Same here. I’ve had a hard time staying close with my single female friends because they act like Seinfeld characters over their relationships. I’ve been in a relationship for 7.5 years (and we just tied the knot). I can’t sympathize with the whole I like him but do I really like him thing. I feel like I can’t be honest and tell my friends when they’re being immature, so I end up nodding and smiling a lot. I don’t really care who my friends date–not any of my business, and I’m happy if they’re happy–as long as I don’t have to pretend like it’s normal they in their mid-late 20s and acting like they’re in high school.
“but what you have is less a “straight women talk about nothing but dudes” problem than a “I keep telling my friends that a certain topic makes me uncomfortable, but they won’t listen or believe me” problem.”
This. I can totally relate to this. I’m a straight woman who was a virgin until I was 21 and I had a best friend who lost her virginity right out of high school who seemed to think that this meant she was winning some sort of unspoken, one-sided competition. She would tell me privately, in graphic detail, about her sexapades, but then in front of other people, she would declare that she couldn’t discuss sex with me because I was a lowly virgin. It was frustrating and I’m not sure if I ever really tried to call her out on it as we were fairly young at the time. I have realized over the last few years of distancing myself from that relationship, that this unspoken competition she wanted to have was one-sided and ongoing beyond just sex. So, I definitely agree with the Captain that this is less straight women being obsessed with boys and more about people who don’t respect you or your stated boundaries. I also feel you on the struggle to find a new group of friends due to this issue, but having more meaningful friendships with people who aren’t trying to compete with me or constantly test my boundaries has made me a happier person in the long run.
Yep yep yep, this is an excellent analysis.
I had a close friendship crash and burn in college, and I didn’t realize until years afterward that it was because of the “unspoken, one-sided competition” that you mention. Like when she said about my boyfriend, “You know, I could take him from you if I really wanted to”—that was such a weird, horrible thing to say to a friend, but I couldn’t see it back then. Anyway, it’s comforting to hear that I’m not the only person who’s had this experience and didn’t recognize it while it was happening.
I’m a Black woman married to a White man, and I have had more White women unbiddingly divulge tales of any and every Negro who went spelunking (or whomever they claimed desperately wanted to) in their cooches. It always had the air of, “You got one of ours? Well, I’ve had one/a few /several /many of yours! So, nyah!”
“But I love so many of these crazy woman dearly”
This is not a thing that comes across at all anywhere else in your message. Nothing in your description of their antics and refusal to respect your feelings provides any reasons I can see to spend time with them; they don’t seem like they are showing a friend the respect that would be due a total stranger.
So why don’t you break up with them?
This jumped out at me too. I have a hard time understanding why LW can express exactly the same sentiment about her friends as they do about their boyfriends, and still not understand where that sentiment is coming from. It’s, like, almost exactly the same thing.
With the exception that there’s a word count here. I do not think your point is entirely unfounded, but it isn’t entirely fair either.
Where do you think that sentiment is coming from?
^ Yup. I was going to say… I’m seeing a lot of parallels between the things the LW’s friends are saying about their boyfriends and the things LW is saying about her friends. If they should break up with their boyfriends (and it seems like they definitely should!) then imo LW should probably break up with these friends.
I would also like to point out that you describe them going into very long detailed descriptions of anime shows/plots in general and it sounded to me like the describing a show in detail annoyed you beside just being annoyed with the straight/rape-y content. It’s possible your friends besides being really awful about the D thing, also have totally different interests than you and aren’t accommodating yours. What happens when you describe in great detail one of your interests? If you go on for 20 minutes about the subtle differences between merino wool and Peruvian wool (for example) do they at least feign interest? Try it and see. See if that love is mutual, if they will listen to your stuff.
Also try making new friends as the captain says. Making new friends helped me see that some “I love these women dearly” relationships of my past weren’t that great. We are still in contact but it is way way way less now. And that is good.
Yeah. TBH, it doesn’t sound like you’re having much fun with these people. Maybe stop hanging out with them until they grow up a bit more–I guarantee you that you aren’t cutting out friendship with All Straight Women Everywhere if you do.
if this question was asking, “If I break up with my straight friends, can I realistically hope to find others who are any better?” the answer is YES, this is not the friendship you are doomed to forever.
I am a queer woman whose female friends are mostly straight women and not only do NONE of my current friends act like the LW’s, I’ve had maybe one friend ever who acted like that and, believe me, I’ve cut ties with some real jerks. Oh, and that one who did this? Was a total homophobe who *may* have been a closeted self-loather but most certainly *was* a hypocritical homophobe who on the one hand wanted to have a queer friend for the “cool” factor (joke’s on her – I’ve never been anything like cool, ha ha) and, on the other, was TERRIFIED that someone somewhere might possibly maybe think that she was also queer.
Beyond that…my straight friends have said some foolish things sometimes, almost always out of ignorance, but they’ve all always been amenable to, “Dude, no.”
I’m not interested in hearing about ANYONE’s sex life and all my friends, regardless of their specific set up in life, respect that because they are friends worth having. Those that want to talk about that topic do so with others who also want to talk about it. Friends treat each other with respect. I don’t know how your current friends are going to react to the you that demands the respect you deserve, but I can promise you that there are plenty of straight women who are entirely worthy of friendship – you’re not stuck between “friends who treat me badly” and “no friends at all”.
Does this not remind you of the SNL sketch with Christopher Walken, Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch. The international, cosmopolitan couple who insist on describing their sexcapades with Walken’s lady friends?
Can I add to the list of rejoinders: “I get it, you’re straight, now can we move on?” Maybe some of these friends might hade fallen into the “just because you are gay, you probably love me” weird kind of thinking. Which is shitty anyway.
But really, walking away sends such a clear message. Go Cap.
THIS! And do it repeatedly, in a bored monotone, like Jenna Elfman in Friends with Benefits saying, “You’re men. You like sports. You’re men. You like sports. You’re men. You like sports.” when her father and brother wouldn’t STFU about sportsball at every meal.
Yikes! Well, I’m a straight gal myself, but I’ve no patience for any of the sex-talk, boy/husband talk in a group. I didn’t when I was twelve and I don’t now that I’ve been an adult for many decades. Seriously though, friends that can’t respect your comfort zones don’t sound like great friends. None of my female friends have these kinds of conversations, and the acquaintances who do are the ones who I make myself scarce around when they have them. There are plenty of folks out there–including straight women–who do not want to talk husbands/boys/sex etc all the time. Wishing you better conversations, even if it takes finding a more considerate group of friends.
I agree with all the boundary stuff, but I disagree with one bit of CA’s advice, which is telling people ‘Gross!’ Or ‘I find that repulsive’.
Be careful with that one, and make sure to place the feeling on you, not on your friends. You want to send the message ‘I find this conversation really uncomfortable and I’d rather never discuss male genetalia’ instead of sending the message ‘I think your sex life is really gross’.
I’ve been a fat woman with a fat husband in a group of funny friends who talked very openly about sex. But I realized after a while that if I or my husband joked around, it was met with ‘oh, now that image is burned in my brain! Gross!’ It really affected my self esteem back then.
So just make sure you’re owning the discomfort when you address it with them and don’t make ‘shaming’ phrases…. At least not about their choices in attraction. Feel free to shame them for disrespecting your comfort levels! 🙂
Great point, thank you for raising it. I was thinking about the details of semen allergies when I put that one out there, but, yeah.
For the semen allergies and discussions of PIV sex being extremely painful, I’d go with something like, “You should talk to your doctor about that. In the mean time, I don’t want to hear the details.”
That’s a silly problem anyway. “Use a condom” – there, problem solved. I don’t get how that would be more than a minor annoyance to a woman who isn’t trying to get pregnant.
In a situation where a guy is already being abusive I really don’t think “use a condom” is necessarily an easy answer. Abusive guys will use all kinds of methods to avoid condoms. It’s not simple and it’s not easy. Nothing is if you’re the abused person in a relationship.
Oh, absolutely. It’s just that it is a silly problem if you assume the relationship is healthy. If it is abusive … in that case, something clearly needs to be done, and saying “That’s gross” won’t suffice. (I am hesitant to classify it as abusive on that info alone, because if I do, there’d be lots and lots of het relationships I would have to classify as abusive, beginning with the fact that the woman is often made solely responsible for the contraception. Not that I wouldn’t like to call that abusive, but many people would object.)
It just seemed unnecessarily dismissive for you to say anyone’s problem is silly. Problems are problems. I can’t see it benefiting anyone to call their problem silly. So I gave you an example of a complication in the hope that it would help you see the problem with more complexity and less… maybe contempt is the word.
This sounds like great advice. It’s kinder, and people are more likely to accommodate a friend’s preference than to try to please someone who’s disgusted with them.
I agree with this, but I would like to add that OP’s not obligated to pretend to like anything about her friends’ overshared sex lives, either.
Aren’t you doing the same thing your friends do with their boyfriends? They make you miserable constantly, you obviously don’t share the same interests or sense of humor, you think the things they like are gross, and they don’t care about making you uncomfortable. Break up with them. Go find other friends. Hang out with guys or other queer women if you can’t find straight women you get along with. It doesn’t seem like they’re interested in changing, and you aren’t either, so you’d probably be better off apart.
In my opinion there is a big difference between when people constantly complain about their partners to their friends (friends who probably have to socialize with the complained-about person) and reaching out one time to faraway strangers. Yes, there is a buildup of venting in the letter, and it sounds to me like the LW has outgrown this crowd and should think about moving on. But it’s not the same thing the friends are doing.
I wouldn’t compare the complaining to the advice seeking, but there does seem to be a certain “physician, heal thyself” moment when it comes to not seeing that the thing to do is move on. But I have always thought there’s some truth to the “we dislike in others what we hate in ourselves” concept.
A few more for the list:
That sounds like abuse.
A gynecologist ought to be able to help with painful intercourse.
It sounds like you know you should break up with him but are having trouble doing it. Have you considered therapy?
I can’t tell what reaction you want. Sympathy? Advice?
I have the number of a women’s shelter you can run to if it gets too bad and you’re scared to leave him.
Longtime lurker here breaking my silence to say that most ob-gyns are ill-equipped to handle pain disorders. They can diagnose things like fibroids. But for vulvodynia or vestibulitis and the like, you need a urologist/pelvic floor specialist.
The line about painful sex stood out to me. This has nothing to do with OP, but I’d like to say that consistent pain is not normal and does not have to be endured or only expected to be cured with “more lube” (something a really terrible obgyn/person told me before hanging up the phone).
Yes! It wasn’t till I was pregnant was seeing a midwife that I got a useful diagnosis for my pain. ARGH. Definitely second urologist/pelvic floor specialist. Pain can also be cause by allergies, various STIs, vaginosis, and thrush infections which can usually be tested for and treated by a GP.
In fact, painful sex – maybe start with a sexual health clinic.
Yes. It is sad how few doctors, outside of sexual health clinics, care about painful sex for women. And not surprising that affected women might want to talk about it with their friends, in an attempt to confirm whether they are socially expected to put up with it. But there’s still no excuse for grossing people out once they have indicated they don’t wish to engage.
Somewhat off topic but it can also be caused by hormonal birth control (I don’t think it’s a well recognised side effect though, probably because it doesn’t affect that many people).
Back on topic, I think the Captain’s advice about enforcing boundaries is spot on. And I echo all the other comments that it’s possible to form friendships with women that don’t involve discussing sex, or only so far as you’re happy. I definitely have certain friends with whom I talk about sex (although rarely these days) and other friends where it’s just not a topic up for discussion.
I had an issue like this for awhile. It has since mostly resolved itself, but ugh, it’s really awful, and my doctors were super unhelpful during it. All of them.
I actually did confide in a couple of my friends and my mother, all of whom were actually really helpful and helped me figure out how to deal with both the physical symptoms and the emotional effect it was having on me (which was also pretty significant). However, I did so very haltingly and gave the people I was talking to plenty of space to say, “No, I’m uncomfortable with this, it’s TMI,” and it was only very close friends I broached the subject with at all. (And, fwiw, my partner is male, and one of the friends I confided in is a lesbian.)
So… I don’t think it’s absurd and screwed up to have these conversations, and I actually don’t think that sexual orientation is necessarily relevant in how appropriate someone is to talk to. However, the OP is clearly uncomfortable with it, and the friends are push anyway – and that’s a huge problem.
I am a straight lady, who does not talk explicitly about her sex life. I promise we are out there.
I don’t mind a little story every now & then but I do have friends who overshare their sex lives a little to much. I usually respond with an ‘Ergh, TMI.’ and they go ‘Whoops, sorry.’ and the conversation moves on to something else.
If your friends are not capable of doing that they do not sound like good friends.
Your friends might just be going through a phase where the only way they know how to bond is by exchanging tales of the horrors they suffer. Perhaps they will out grow this eventually.
Meanwhile follow the Captain’s advice on boundary setting.
Or, drop them. They sound awful.
Yes, I agree with this. Younger!Kellis wasn’t as good as confrontation and would often vent to friends (they would sometimes do the same) about whatever annoying thing my partner at the time did as an alternative to bring it up to the partner directly. It didn’t really occur to me at the time that it was an option. While I can give the younger me a hug and a celebratory parade of how far I’ve come, I can also agree that it was probably annoying at times. As I got better at confrontation I outgrew that group of friends.
For me it was a thing that got better with therapy and age. Idk, LW, maybe look for slightly older friends with better boundary-skills? I’m glad you wrote in, what you’re describing sounds very annoying at best.
Kellis- it’s really impressive to me that people learn and grow and get past stuff. Yay you!
Awww, thank you. You are kind.
Holy moly! I just wanted to add myself to the list of heterosexual women here saying, “Uh . . . . that’s not representative of ALL of us!” In fact, I’d say that’s not representative of MOST of us (and I would also love to know how old the women in question are, because I can’t fathom this kind of behavior from an adult!). I think you always have to know your audience. I swear around my husband, but I don’t swear around my friends who are Mormon because I know it offends them. I don’t mind talking about sex with other people who are comfortable with the topic, but again, that is a very select group of people who have shown their interest in the topic previously. So I think your problems are SPECIFICALLY about this particular circle of friends. A good friend will respect your beliefs and opinions no matter their own sexual orientation (or yours, for that matter. I have many conservative friends who are heterosexual and would be equally appalled by the topics your friends insist on involving you with) and it sounds like you need a friend who respects boundaries. But please don’t write off all straight women because there plenty who are capable of doing that! Just . . . not these ones perhaps Good luck!
Dear Confused and Grossed Out,
Find new friends! I promise you there are straight ladies who are not on the Sex Overshare Train. Meanwhile follow the advice on boundary setting.
I definitely think that (at least most of) this is unrelated to your sexuality. (As Esquette says, maybe they feel the need to remind you that they’re straight because of the obnoxious stereotype that you must be into them because you are a lesbian and they are women.)
I mean, you’ve got shitty friends. They violate your boundaries constantly by talking about stuff you’re uncomfortable with. You could be into dudes and this would still be obnoxious and not okay!
And they’re in shitty relationships, too. Gross.
I guess it’s possible that this isn’t that different from a friend group whose conversation all revolves around “Let me tell you how sick-drunk I got last weekend” or “I’ve been on Megadiet for three weeks and today I ate two leaves of lettuce and I am so full” or “Since Bratleigh went on solid foods, her diapers are …”
But it’s also possible, as the captain said, that your friends think it’s amusing to rub their hetero sex lives in your face, which is obnoxious.
I guess it’s possible that this isn’t that different from a friend group whose conversation all revolves around “Let me tell you how sick-drunk I got last weekend” or “I’ve been on Megadiet for three weeks and today I ate two leaves of lettuce and I am so full” or “Since Bratleigh went on solid foods, her diapers are …”
Nor is it that different from “I think the Canucks are gonna destroy the Flames this series” or “I’m playing a Wizened in my buddy’s Dark Ages Fae game, she’s got five dots in Occult” – both phrases that have been the start of a number of mutually enjoyable conversations. But not after someone has made a point of telling me that hockey is Not Their Bag and RPGs are gobbledygook to them. MegaDieter and Bratleigh’s parents would be just as valid in ditching me under those circumstances as I would them.
As a straight, married lady: all those things sound unbearable to listen to. Though I occasionally watch that kind of anime in a “this is hilaribad” ironic kind of way while drinking, but only with people who enjoy mocking things with me. Anyways, that isn’t the point.
The point is, we respectful, less sex obsessed straight ladies exist. Come find us! Speaking for myself, my sword obsession may be irritating to my friends at times, but it’s strictly the steel kind. ;P
There are still (off color) jokes to be made here about steel swords, but… I won’t make them, considering that at the bare minimum, one person–the LW–has expressed a distaste for them.
As a straight woman, with a friend group that’s currently entirely composed of other straight women, and whose friend/acquaintance group has historically been composed of mostly straight women (that’s just the demographics of my location/occupation/hobbies, not any kind of choice on my part), I know nobody who would, or has, overshare(d) to that degree. Not even a decade ago in grad school. Not as an undergrad either, and not even in HS. Though it’s true that we all became less obnoxious in many ways as we aged.
Straight women and lesbians are just not that different. The thing about gender being fluid and not binary is something I’ve encountered here (it was novel to me at first and so I’ve been very interested in learning more, and am apprehensive of saying some inadvertently offensive/thoughtless thing due to ignorance). Isn’t the corollary of that idea that people are people, and human nature is human nature in every subpopulation (sexual/gender orientation, ethnicity, etc)? Why would straight women as a monolith be less mature, less thoughtful, less aware of or respectful of friends’ stated boundaries than lesbians? It’s not straight women–it’s your friend group.
That doesn’t carry any implications for whether your friendship with these women can be salvaged. Only you know whether it’s worth it to you to try, or exactly what that would look like for you. But please know that you aren’t doomed to write off all straight women as thoughtless assholes. 😉
I haven’t read the whole comment thread, but I am sure I won’t be the first to say, it sounds like you need some other friends! These people sound both dull and irritating. I am a straight woman, and most of my friends are straight women, and I assure you that in my experience straight women, and women in general, and also men, can have conversations that are not about dick.
Oh wow. They sound super tacky and self-centered. Be warned, though, that even lesbian ladies can be massive whiners/oversharers. I had to listen at length about “bed death” and vulvodynia and jealousy between off and on exes where one party was experimenting with being bi with a guy who was thinking he might be bi, also. And when I asked why not just break up or walk away or get treated, got told I couldn’t possibly understand. Which is in essence true, since I am not drawn to such complicated scenarios.
Yep. I can understand why it’s more annoying when it’s something you’re not interested in at all, but my experience has been that oversharing is not linked to sexual orientation.
Definitely not. At around the same time, I had a straight woman telling me at length about her intimate life, often out of the blue. We’d be talking about, I don’t know, the fall of the Berlin Wall (this was in the early ’90s, we were all in college), and she bursts out with details about her boyfriend’s testicles.
DDDDDD8 – emoticon of extreme dismay…
It was just so random. She was an oversharer long before the term even existed.
Had she nicknamed her boyfriend’s testicles the No Man’s Land, or were they covered with graffiti, or…
ZOMG, LOL. What is Checkpoint Charlie and WHAT GOES THROUGH?! How many escapes have there been?! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this scrote! ICH BEIN EIN BALLSACK!
It was weirder. Apparently, they would move on their own while she stared at them. And this of course meant all I could think of when I saw him was “moveable scrotum.” Awkward.
OK I want to reply with some lived experience to the thing about moving testicals, but I’m afraid that prolonging the topic means I’ll be like OP’s friends 😦
This is slightly beside the point, but your friends sound like weeaboos. Not cool, especially when it crosses over with JAPANESE SEXXX, clearly the most sexy sex of all time. It sounds kinda fetishy. It sounds like when I was 13 and had just discovered erotic fanfiction for certain anime fandoms and thought I was SO GROWN UP by loudly talking about it with my friend and hoping people would overhear that I knew about sex of different kinds. I grew out of it, thank Christ. And then some…things happened to me and now I can’t handle ANYONE TMI-ing about their sex life. Or people publicly wearing items that are clearly meant for BDSM. Anything like that Freaks. Me. Out. So I totally understand your frustration about having to listen to what are presumably grown adults doing this. 😦
Then there’s what sounds like a group culture you are trying to exist against about ‘our male partners suck!! But it’s funny and not worrying apparently! Don’t bring up your concerns about our happiness in these relationships we never stop complaining about, why would you do that, it’s all a joke!’ It kind of reminds me of the CA posts about women body-shaming themselves as female bonding, only it’s relationship related instead. I read this and definitely thought ‘LW needs cooler friends’, but I don’t want to be reductive as you are asking for advice on how to keep them as friends (though I would recommend maybe looking for new friends alongside them as well, if you have the opportunity). When the relationship complaining starts, perhaps you could say ‘this is such a negative topic, maybe we could talk about how amazing such-and-such movie was? How nice so-and-so is looking with her new haircut? How amazing dogs/cats/ball pythons are?’ Hopefully your friends will get to like the feeling of talking about something positive. Good luck LW!
Your first sentence there sounds pretty racist – What exactly is wrong with Japanese sexuality?
Rapey animes =/= an entire country’s sex life.
“Weeabos” refers to non-Japanese people (generally but not exclusively white) who obsessively fetishize Japan and it’s culture. I believe mossyone is referring to the tendency within that subculture to also obsessively fetishize rapey anime as a) the dominant sexual culture of Japan, and b) the pinnacle of sexy sex.
I don’t think mossyone was being racist; I think zie was talking about a specific type of person’s (a weeaboo) attitudes about Japan/Japanese culture & media. Zie was sharing a perspective about where the LW’s heads might be at.
A weeaboo is basically a non-Japanese person who fetishizes Japanese culture and media and tries to act like they are Japanese (or what Tumblr/the internet/anime has told them is Japanese). It’s a derisive term for weeboos’ icky, appropriative attitude toward a culture that is not their own. A weeaboo would think that yaoi and Japanese sex (as depicted in anime, probably) was TEH MOST SEXY OF SEX, and would probably have some pretty screwed up ideas about Japanese people and the sex they have.
I know what that word means, thank you very much.
I didn’t, so I was happy to see the description.
Just to be clear, the Friends’ behaviour is unquestionably wrong.
Thing is, it would be just as wrong if they were recapping, say, Game of Thrones, because the point is the LW doesn’t want to hear it and they do it anyway.
So, this (and other) comments putting the onus on the Japanese-ness of their interests gets some serious side-eye, because the difference between a rapey anime and a rapey HBO (or drawings of manga penis vs pictures of live action porn stars, or whatever) show is just that, the county/culture of origin.
That racist-smelling/xenophobic ick is not something I would expect to see on this site, from these commentors.
(Also to use that word, you are assuming the LW and friends are white, which is a thing in itself)
I’m not sure where you’re getting from my comment that I think the Japanese-ness of the LW’s friends’ interest is what is weird or bad about the situation. Frankly I don’t have an opinion either way about the LW’s friends’ interests; I was replying to your comment because I don’t think that mossyone’s comment was racist and I wasn’t sure if you knew what a weeaboo is.
So, to clarify: I don’t think there is anything weird or wrong with being into Japanese stuff. I also don’t think that Japan/the Japanese are weird/rapey/gross just because some Japanese media is weird/rapey/gross. Your point about GoT is a great one, as I do think that show is rapey and gross, and yet do not believe that all Americans are rapey/gross.
It’s not weird that the LW’s friends are into Japanese stuff. The fetishization and exotification of Japanese culture that weeaboos commonly engage in does gross me out, and if they’re doing that (again, I don’t know that they are), then I do think that behavior is racist and gross. I find it racist in the way I find someone saying they “have jungle fever” racist. I think that seeing a culture only through the lens of what titillates you is gross, but I certainly don’t think that a culture/country is rapey/weird/wrong because it produces some squicky stuff. If I thought that, I’d have leave Earth for an uninhabited planet, since there is no culture anywhere on this one that doesn’t produce some questionable stuff.
(Side note: does ‘weeaboo’ exclusively refer to white people? I thought it referred to all non-Japanese people.)
This and also unless they are only watching Hentai there is no sex happening in anime. Panty shots and like sure but not sex since almost all shows are aired on TV.
Um, nothing? But there is something very wrong with white people who fetishize Japanese sexuality, which it sounds like LW’s friends are doing.
“The few lesbians I’ve talked to about this online, say this is exactly the reason why they do not hang out/are no longer close friends with straight woman, because stuff like this always happens eventually, and no matter how often you tell them that you don’t want to hear about their disturbing heterosexual shenanigans, they will not listen to you.”
This is honestly where I am right now. In my experience sometimes straight women have said very sexually inappropriate things without realizing when they veer into harassment. If you’re up for this kind of confrontation, try reminding them that this is inappropriate, you didn’t ask for it, and if you tl;dred about your sex life to the same extent, they would be uncomfortable too.
I agree except for the last part of the last sentence – some straight women (some people in general) have higher tolerances for sex talk. If you tell them they’d be uncomfortable with talking about your sex life, make sure that is actually true. Otherwise you run the risk of, “Oh, we can talk about you too! *uncomfortable question about your girlfriend/hookups that you don’t want to answer*”.
I’m so sorry. It sounds exhausting to deal with. Jedi hugs
Adding to the fairly obvious #notallsteaughtwomen theme: this is deffo an issue with your friendship group as everyone’s different. My Herero friends I’ve known since school never talk about any of this – all late bloomers who happened to fall in love with the first person they went out with. Same with my sister. We don’t talk about it at all, which sometimes is slightly frustrating for me – the last single Virgin of the group – as I want to collect data dammit! But it’s just not out grouo’so thing, like we don’t really hug either even though I’d happily be a huggy person. Some of my other friendship groups are more open to talk about sex stuff, but can back off if overhearing happens. Basically it depends on the people and these people of yours sound maddening! Capain’s advice is good – keep putting up boundaries but keep shopping for new friendships that may mesh better
I commented above as a Repressed Individual who does not talk about sex, but I also wanted to note that I have been peripherally part of a friend group where TMI Sex Talk and Complaints About Boyfriends was the exigence du jour (that’s not a real phrase.) I found it kind of amusing, if a bit distasteful (for me, personally, the second time I meet you is WAY too soon to hear about the sharing of bodily fluids.) I mostly took that as a tip-off that these were Not My People. They had other good qualities (though an excellent understanding of boundaries was not one of them.)
It’s not your fault for stumbling into a group that is not a great match for you; sometimes it happens without your really intending it to work out that way. (In this case, I made friends with one person out of this group, who was pretty reserved about talking with sex, but then she introduced me to the other folks in the group, who were not at all reserved.)
Maybe I am just not feeling this nice about this, but as a bisexual woman, I resent the narrow viewpoints and lumping of types of women being done NOT ONLY by the LW’s pathetic straight friends, BUT ALSO by the LW and her lesbian friends. Women come in more than these two categories: immature, straight women who buy into traditional gender roles and seem to have no understanding of a healthy, mutually beneficial sex life OR lesbians who all, universally, are grossed out by straight people and refer to sexual relations between heterosexuals with derision and treat all straight women as a monolith.
There are bisexual women, asexual women, poly women, trans women, I can go on at length. Their sexuality and gender identities do not dictate such narrow behavior ranges. It feels to me that everybody in this situation, straight friends, their boyfriends, the LW and the LW’s lesbian friends need to get the fuck out more, expand their horizons, and stop stereotyping and disrespecting people. Oh, and grow up, whether mentally or age-wise.
Yeah, I definitely came away from this letter feeling icky both about the LW’s terrible sex-talk straight friends AND about the terrible lesbians (and the LW herself) who think that is representative of all straight women who apparently inevitably will drive you crazy with unwanted discussions of their “disturbing heterosexual shenanigans”.
LW, a huge amount of what you’re describing is in no way specific to straight women: boring and/or TMI complaints about relationships/sex partners, giggling over naked pictures or people they find hot, detailed descriptions of TV shows and other media you don’t care about, etc. That’s why pretty much all of the Captain’s scripts for dealing with it have nothing to do with sexual orientation. Only being friends with lesbians isn’t going to let you avoid those issues, and believe me, having the same sexual orientation as your friends doesn’t make it any more fun to listen to them go on and on about relationship problems. It’s a human problem, not a straight-women problem, and pretty much everyone has to deal with it at some point(s) in their lives.
But what I’m getting from your letter is that perhaps you don’t know any lesbians in a non-internet context, and I think it’s possible you’re reacting to your friend’s annoying behaviour particularly strongly–and in a specifically “ugh, straight ladies” way–because you’re feeling like the odd person out. You should still absolutely enforce whatever boundaries you feel comfortable with regarding sex and relationship talk with your straight friends, but I suspect actively trying to cultivate some friendships with lesbians (especially in real life) would make it feel less like your straight friends talking about their sex lives or relationships is uniquely terrible.
As an ace, I appreciated the “oh god people won’t stop talking about this aspect of their life that I do not have and it is alienating me” perspective coming from a non-ace. Its not something I’ve experienced much myself, either due to luck or some aspect of my personality that I can’t pinpoint. But, a bunch of other aces and aros I’ve talked to have expressed great frustration and alienation at hearing about their friend’s sex lives, and, well, its nice to know that this frustration and sense of alienation is more universal than just us.
And you’re right that its not a hetero or homosexual thing. I have heard people frustrated at homosexuals and queer people for doing the same thing that these heterosexual women are doing. It might be a “omg I have a sexuality and need to talk about it because I haven’t gotten to talk about it before or because so many spaces in my life don’t let me talk about it and its a huge part of myself!!” thing, which is perhaps why so many posters are asking what the age range is of the friend group. Because it seems like something that young people would do when first exploring their sexuality. Or older people who feel they aren’t allowed to talk about this stuff as much as they need to. I don’t think that makes any of them pathetic though, just bad friends for LW right now.
On the categories… I dunno. Generalizations are frustrating, because they erase so many people, but its really hard to write a letter with a word count limit without some generalizations (…says the person who finds “ladies and gentlemen” super erasing and completely unneccessary). I interpreted the letter as talking about the people LW already knows, who happen to fall into those two groups, and being worried about if she should generalize or not. Seems better to ask then assume, yeah?
Yeah, it’s not a great day today for me. All my meds just got switched and apparently irritability is a significant side effect. I think it was the closure of the letter that got me. Because it was all like what do I do, because I can’t imagine that I will find anything but straight women who act like this in the entire country. That part just struck me with that all or nothing melodrama many of us indulge in during our youth.
Good luck with your meds!
Aren’t the med-change-angries fun? I had like a full two months where I did nothing but feel sorry for myself and pick fights on the internet because I changed onto a new med (and was grouchy throughout) only to discover it did not work and have to grouch my way through the transition back onto the old med.
So, much sympathy for you.
my sympathies. 😦 I hope your next day is much much better, with fewer microaggressions. 😦 😦
Thanks guys. The irritability should wear off in a few days after my brain adjusts.
Honestly? I’m a bi lady who is not experiencing any med changes, and the entire tone of the letter gave me the Rages too.
I definitely sympathize with the LW’s situation because it sounds annoying and terrible, but when she started on the “other lesbians tell me not to be friends with Straight Women because they All Only Talk About Men (and I mostly agree)”, I started feeling a little rage-y. It seems like it’s the straight-lady version of the same kind of tripe that some lesbians peddle about about bisexual women (how we can’t be trusted and we’ll leave them for a man and we’re just using Good Honest Lesbians as a stopover on our way to the Heterosexual Dream and thus we are not desirable partners). Assigning behaviors to an entire group of people based on their sexuality is gross and wrong, no matter the sexuality in question.
sorry. this is itching me. I shouldn’t reply and here I am.
On the “not all straight people”, I think this is a case of “making generalizations about a group more powerful or numerous than your own is less harmful than making generalizations about a minority”.
Is it still harmful? Sure. Is it worth policing women who complain that “men do X” or “men are like X” when only 15% of men are like that? Not really. Is it worth policing racial minorities in the US who complain that “white people do X” or “white people are X”? I really don’t think so… there is a power differential at play. People need to be allowed to vent about the harassment they go through, both for their own emotional needs and to educate the rest of us. Policing their language makes it a lot harder for them to vent without constantly walking on eggshells while they do so (in which case, its not really venting, its just a burden of teaching). Could LW have put the effort in to say “some” or “many” or “most” or “my friends who are behaving this way but may not be representative of all people”? Yes. Would it have still been venting? No.
Complaining that “straight people do X (to me)” seems to fall in the same category to me.
Its not remotely ok that some of you have had people make generalizations about bi people and it hurt. Bi people are another minority group (as defined by the discourse having fewer bi voices speaking about bi people than other people speaking about bi people). Straight people though, their reputation is gonna survive a handful of queer people complaining about them, because they’ve got the numbers to say “by the way, I’m not personally like that and I’m straight”. Because most of us have a straight person in our lives.
On the trans-mysogony and erasing of lesbians who date trans women and erasing straight women who date trans men and the erasing of women who aren’t straight or lesiban or non-binary people altogether, I got nothing. Those are minority groups again, so its good to not erase them. Specifying that she was sick of hearing about man-dick would have been great. Or that she was sick of hearing about anyone’s genitals, or straight-sex or what have you. Or if she said that she was just talking about her social circle who happens to be this way (which is what I assumed, in which case it could all very well be true). Anyhow. There are two seperate issues at play.
Really great point about the oversharing correlating with first exploration of sexuality!
“omg I have a sexuality and need to talk about it because I haven’t gotten to talk about it before or because so many spaces in my life don’t let me talk about it and its a huge part of myself!!”
Yep, that’s exactly the dynamic I and a number of my friends have gone through at different points in high school and college. There’s also sometimes a connected factor of “I’m anxious or unsure about the validity of my feelings and identity, so I need to talk about my sex life and desires to prove that I belong in this community” – especially common with bi and trans folk who’ve had their identities called into question by shitty people. In me this has sometimes manifested as “yeah sure I like dudes whatever BUT I’M ALSO SUPER INTO WOMEN AND NONBINARY PEOPLE, HAVE I MENTIONED THAT LATELY? LET ME TELL YOU HOW ATTRACTIVE THEY ALL ARE” because it was expected that I’d like dudes but considered weirder to like other genders, especially while liking dudes at the same time, so I overcompensated.
Sometimes it’s led to awkward over sharing among my friends that gets nixed by friends less comfy with such conversations. The important factor is that we’re all genuinely sorry to have gone overboard with sexual details, and we cut off the conversation topic if someone isn’t comfortable with it.
Yeah, there’s this undercurrent of “straight women are this way” in the letter that’s just…unfair and unnecessary. LW’s relationships with her friends are not great relationships for LW, but there are plenty of women (straight or not) who would be happy to be LW’s friend and wouldn’t overshare sex stuff. Sharing sex stuff is actually not the default for most platonic friendships! There are a lot of people who like talking about sex with some friends, and not with others, and who respect their friends’ wishes. As a bi woman with one foot in and one foot out of the queer community, I gotta say that there is zero correlation between orientation and oversharing. Straight people are just as diverse as the rest of us.
Also, LW, some women have penises, and some of those women and their partners are lesbians. So being a lesbian and being uninterested in dicks don’t necessarily go together. As you get more involved in the queer community, if you can and you want to do that, please remember trans* people, and remember not to make assumptions about gender, sexuality, and orientation. (“Straight women won’t shut up about the D” is one of those assumptions, based on your own experience, but not a valid assumption for straight women outside your friend group. Yeah, I know, combating stereotypes about heterosexuals, NOT really lesbians’ job in general. But you don’t want to cut yourself off from these friendships, so I hope this will be good news for you, not just #notallstraightwomen.)
You posted what I was gonna comment to say, but I’m gonna say it again anyway—there is some pretty intense “penises are gross BECAUSE I’m a lesbian” in this letter and wow that’s not chill. You get to feel however you want about penises, just like women who have penises get to feel however they want about them, but this equation you are setting up of “penises and lesbians are incompatible”—which you are doing in this letter, whether you intended to do so or not—is transmisogynistic.
Thank you Mayati and panda flannel so much for saying this. When I read the letter alarm bells immediately went off in my mind and I was honestly upset at the complete silence about the transmisogyny and cissexism being thrown around. I like to give the benefit of the doubt – after all, cissexism is ingrained into our society – but it definitely still stings and to see it unchallenged is disheartening.
Yeah, it’s not like hetero women cannot find penises gross, either.
Well, and even if you’re a cis woman who is a lesbian, that doesn’t mean you have to find penises and men gross!
Yeah, the more times cis lesbians say “oh, of course we all think dicks are gross,” the more trans women get told that they’re not really women, their bodies are gross, and they’ll never be loved (especially if they’re gay). I don’t think LW intended to say those things, but those messages are part and parcel of the way she’s conceptualizing sex and gender.
Agreed! Thanks for saying it!
I agree. This group is a bad fit for this woman. I would be bored by all this but there are people who complain because I tend to repeat myself. Misery loves company. They sound perfectly matched and why should they be scolded because you’re not having as good a time? It isn’t anyone’s job to be sure you enjoy your self. Find different friends.
I’m with you. I was uncomfortable with LW implying that no lesbians want to hear about dick, not about that aspect specifically, but about the reverse — do lesbians assume that straight women aren’t interested in hearing about their problems because it happens to be about two pussies? I’d be dismayed to hear that.
I would hope that LW sees this more as a mismatch about what she’s interested in talking about (and what *is* she interested in talking about with these people? I didn’t see much indication of that) and what the other people are talking about, than as a Gay Woman vs. Straight Women thing. There seems to be an awful lot of tarring with some very broad brushes here.
Now, I hadn’t considered the possibility that the straight women were being straight *at* her, and obviously if that’s the case that’s a whole different issue, but I didn’t read it that way.
LW, let me see if I can summarize your letter:
Your friends talk about things you don’t find interesting: Japanese dating sims, anime shows you don’t watch, and sex with men.
Your friends talk about being frustrated in their relationships, and when you suggest a solution to fix their frustration, they ignore your solution, and continue, week after week, to vent their frustrations to you.
Notice how the core issues here aren’t “homosexual versus heterosexual”? I’m a straight male, and I’m not interested in dating sims or lengthy oral recaps of anime episodes, and I don’t discuss my sexual escapades with, well, anyone ever.
What happens when you try to steer the conversation to topics you enjoy? What happens when you want to talk about [ book series ] or [ band that’s on tour ] or [ political event ]?
A couple of things could be going on here, and I don’t want to try and guess, so I’ll just give you the scenarios, LW, and let you figure out which one fits.
Oh, LW? She’s our friend the lesbian. No, really, she’s a lesbian! Show her a picture of a penis and you’ll see!
Your friends are very much exploring the parts of their identities that are connected to sexual relationships, and might have some tunnel-vision there. They’re interacting with you, LW, not as a Dr. Who/Game of Thrones/NCIS/whatever enthusiast, or as a singer/dancer/writer/jogger/welder/dogwalker/other activity or profession, but as “the one who is a lesbian”. If you try to move the conversation to non-sexual topics of things that everyone can enjoy, and they resist, it may be because they’re hung up on your sexual orientation as a defining personal characteristic. This might be innocent and naïve behavior, or it might be low-key anti-gay behavior. (“talk about dick in front of the lesbian; that should drive her off!”)
In either case, talk about non-sexual things: books, pets, hobbies and activities. If they’re not interested in knowing you as a whole person rather than just a lesbian, they’re not your friends.
Let’s talk about what I’m interested in! Boys and cartoons and weird kinky things from Japan! You’re not interested in that? But that’s all I want to talk about.
We make friends for a lot of reasons. Sometimes we’re friends with people because of a shared experience, a common stress like work or summer camp or whatnot. Those friends can be fun, and you can have a strong bond with them, but it’s also possible that outside that common, shared experience, you have nothing in common with them. They don’t read the books you read, or share your hobbies or interests. That doesn’t make them bad friends, it just makes them bad friends for talking with and/or hanging out with. They might be great fun at the movies, or a concert, or going on a pub craw and singing karaoke. Not all friends are good for all possible interactions.
If you change up when and how you see these people, and it’s still boring and alienating, then they’re not really friends. Sorry.
A++ comment right here.
This is another great way to look at this on this and I agree it is quite likely your friends are focusing on the fact that you are their “lesbian friend” instead of you are their friend who happens to be a lesbian.
And to emphasize, it’s not a straight women friend problem. I’m another straight woman who is not comfortable discussing details of sex with anyone. I can understand some folks are cool with that and more power to them, but it’s not for me and if they try to draw me in to that sort of conversation, I put up boundaries too. Plenty of other topics I speak frankly on with certain friends (pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, baby/toddler/young child stuff, etc.), but I make sure my audience is cool with that. It’s rude to take about subjects with folks who aren’t comfortable with them. Yes we all need to vent and have an outlet, but just because you are a friend does not mean you have to be their outlet on every topic. It sucks, but I agree it sounds like you’ve mostly or totally outgrown this friend group.
And yeah, I too hate the complaining dynamic folks do about their SOs (this applies to folks of all genders and orientations IME). We all need to vent at times for sure and I’ve done that with friends on occasion, but I too can’t deal with listening to folks who constantly gripe and complain about their SO day in and day out. I do understand that it is easier to see that stuff when you are outside of it, but still, I will put up a boundary on that with my friends and enforce it as I am not going to sit there and listen to constant complaints about a SO. Some folks really love this complaining about the SO competition though and thrive on it and sometimes that is all it is, sort of a game, but it also normalizes shitty behavior and abusive behavior, so I refuse to participate when folks want to play that game.
I think Captain is 100% right that this is not really a straight-women-friends-and-boyfriends problem but a “friends”-who-don’t-respect-boundaries problem. I mean, I would have as much of an issue with this if it were children or religion or diets or Amway or being poly they would not STFU about.
If you do want to stay friends with some of these folks, I’d recommend spending more one-on-one time with them – this sounds like a weird, gross group dynamic. I have in the past had friends who could not stop talking about Partner du Jour or found a way to redirect every topic back to them. Understandable when you are twitterpated with a new love; annoying when this has been going on for ages. I found it helped to gently redirect the conversation back to them and away from their partner.
Maybe this is not the right group for you, which is ok! I do not think you should write off straight women as friends forever, because….that is very generalizing and shitty and I think kind of misogynist, frankly. These women may not be Your People. You may want to keep just a few friendships from this group. But it would suck to write off potentially awesome friends because they’re straight women.
Wow. I didn’t know there was all this sexy anime out there. My idea of anime is “My Neighbor Totoro” and other Miyazaki films.
That said, I’m a sorta-straight woman in my 50s. My friends are all straight (to the best of my knowledge) and we never talk about our sex lives. Maybe as a joke or as a question (as in, “When you were going through menopause, did you have any interest in sex?”) I’ll echo what some of the other posters have said: I think you might want to seek out some new friends.
These women sound like maybe they’re in a phase of life when they’re still quite new to sex, perhaps, and feel the need to impress each other about it? Possibly I’ve got this all wrong and you’re all a bit older (though they do seem hella immature either way). When I was in my 20s and a student, I got a retail job alongside a bunch of teenagers. A few of them liked to go into this kind of detail about their sex lives and I was rather nonplussed because they expected a reaction. Then suddenly it clicked that they were trying to impress me with how grown up they were and I suddenly found it hilarious because by that point pretty much all of my friends had had some experience with sex and it had just stopped being something that shifted us up the social hierarchy in any way. By this point nobody cared if the person lost their virginity at 13 or 22, or even hadn’t yet.
I get the impression that maybe LW and her peers are quite young (apologies if that’s a long way off the mark!) and if that’s the case the good news is that they probably will grow out of some of this. The bad news is that they may then start competing over careers, mortgages or birth horror stories. In the meantime, it’s up to LW if she wants to stick around. It could be a great motivation to get out there and meet some new people who have a better sense of boundaries. I know that I struggled to fit in until I left for university, because the girls in my friend group wanted to discuss boys and the boys wanted to discuss sports, and as a distinctly non sporty queer woman I was stuck in a state of bored bewilderment. It got better! There are so many cool people out there, of all genders and orientations. You don’t have to waste your time on people you don’t click with.
I got the impression that these were college aged people, who are feeling comfortable talking about about sex, although it sounds like they’re not always comfortable actually having that sex.
As lots of people have said, different people have different levels of comfort when it comes to details. I’m okay with very general descriptions, like “we finally started having sex and it’s great” or “that was the most boring 3 minutes of my life”. But I lived with one woman who really wanted to tell me all the details every time she had sex with someone, and I was so not okay with that. Eventually that got through to her, but it took a few attempts of saying things like “I’m glad your sex life is good, but I don’t need to know these things.”
With the people who are complaining about painful sex and annoying boyfriends, I want to send them all links to Scarleteen. Which is pitched at teenagers, but has really good advice, even for people who are quite experienced at the whole sex and relationships stuff.
To the LW: you mention talking to lesbians on the internet. This gives me the impression that you don’t have many local queer friends. It might be worthwhile seeing if there are any support groups or just queers hanging out for fun times groups near you. I can’t promise that there won’t be people in any queer groups who don’t discuss stuff outside your comfort zone, but it could be an opportunity to make some new friends with different interests.
Talking to you about sex when you’ve said you don’t want to talk about sex is obnoxious, and needs to stop, and may have some homophobic undertones (either “She’ll see how sexy guys are if I just keep showing her!” or “Isn’t it funny how grossed out the lesbian gets by naked men?”) The Captain’s suggestions for shutting that down are good ones. I don’t think all straight women are like this, or that you have to avoid making friends with straight women in the future. Most straight women don’t inflict TMI about their sex lives on people who have explicitly said they don’t want to hear it.
That said … it sounds like what this group of friends wants to talk about is their relationship woes, sex and jokes about sex, anime, sexy anime, dating sims, and sexy art. And it sounds like none of those things are things you want to talk about.
Sometimes people you care about are still not good “hanging out all the time” friends. Do you actually share any common interests with these people? Now, at this point, not whenever you met them and may have been close in the past? Do you get the feeling that if you didn’t talk about relationships or sex or sexy media while you’re with these people, they would actually enjoy talking about anything else? If not, maybe it is time to look for other friends to hang with who share your interests, and back-burner these relationships for a while.
Ok, this is either really weird coincidence or it’s a fairly common tactic, but I almost get het-conversion vibes from this? Because I know a lesbian who was constantly told by family that it was normal to be repulsed by the idea of sex with dudes, that all women found it disgusting and uncomfortable and that was just part of being straight and she was totally normal for a straight woman and not a lesbian.
So there might be an undercurrent of “Yeah, sex with dudes SUCKS but we put up with it, why don’t you?”
So it kind of depends heavily on is it a Marvel group and they’re talking Marvel among themselves and trying to include you but you’re going “… I am a DC girl and I don’t want to hear it.” Or if they’re specifically directing the talk at you even though you’ve said no. Because if it’s just group dynamic one on one time might help.
That is desperately sad.
Ugh, that’s a horrible story!
And it always puzzles me why the usual reaction to seeing a person who is (apparently) happier than oneself is to try and make that person equally unhappy. I mean, why wasn’t the reaction “You find sex with dudes gross and you’re lesbian? OMG, I find sex with dudes gross, too! I must be a lesbian, too!”
That might still be slightly illogical, as you can be asexual (or just not like PIV) but it would be a start to improving their own situation.
I hadn’t thought about it like that, but it is kind of amazing what people will sacrifice in order to preserve the status quo, isn’t it? I have witnessed or been the target of the following:
“I decided having children will make me miserable so I’m not going to.”
“Nobody really WANTS kids, that’s not how it works!”
“Living with my last partner made me feel suffocated. I’m glad my current one is okay with separate spaces.”
“But you have to live together eventually!”
“Working full time made me so stressed that my hair fell out. ”
“Well that’s just how life is!”
Aaand so on.
I don’t like it; I don’t like it one bit.
1) You are WELL within your rights to stick to your guns on this. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum from prudishness, but I would be annoyed as hell if all my friends could talk about is the D and its possessors. The hell with that! Personally, I love sex; I’m all about it… but MY sex. Sex that involves me. That’s it. (Tbh, I don’t even like sitting through makeout scenes in movies.) My friends know that and respect it, regardless of orientation or gender. I don’t mind raunchy humor, but it has to be witty. And we can’t live there.
2) Is this the general group dynamic? I have witnessed situations where friends have fallen into the habit of oversharing sexual details as a language of bonding, along similar lines as Brotalk. That may be fine for them, but if you have made it clear that it bothers you and it continues, then they aren’t trying to bond with you. They can’t be: their behavior is exclusionary, alienating and downright rude. It would be regardless of your orientation. (However, in this instance I find it to be homophobic as well.) If anything, they’re bonding over your discomfort.
3) I swear that I’m not trying to make you paranoid, but do you get the sense that it happens more in their conversations with you (either one-on -one or as a group)? This is unlikely to be relevant to your situation, but as a bisexual woman with friends all up and down the spectrum, I’ve noticed an occasional phenomenon over the years involving the interactions of certain straight women with non-straight women. It’s almost like some sort of passive-aggressive meta-flirting. It goes like this: she’s not attracted to me; it’s not about that. But she knows I find women attractive, and the idea of me/someone being titillated by thoughts of her in a sexual context is titillating to her. Mix and match genders/orientation of the people involved with other variations and the behavior becomes apparent. For example: if a girl or group of girls always talked about sex/their sexploits and/or (especially and) negative aspects of their partners with their straight male friend, the sexual undercurrent would be pretty easy to spot. (I’m sure there must be exceptions out there, of course.) Perfectly innocuous, right? You aren’t interested in her; she isn’t interested in you; no harm, no foul. Yeah, okay, but personally, I’m not down to be used as a toy for my friends’ casual mental masturbation. Psychological frottage is not friendly in my book.
Hmm, maybe I AM a paranoid prude? Surely I’m not the only one to have experienced these things.
In any case, I know you don’t want to lose their friendship, but I second the motion that you need to expand your social circle to include some better people at very least. Also, seriously consider ditching those assholes entirely.
Wow, point no.3 here is really, really well said. I’m a queer woman and I’ve sensed a similar dynamic in groups of friends before, but I’ve never been able to explain it so clearly. thank you for articulating this for me!
I’ve been the target of #3 too. With unwanted massage, one time. So gross.
Seriously. And if that’s not offensive enough, just try calling them out on it! 😐
Hey, thank you! This was my first time posting here and I was actually kinda anxious about it. 😀
Oh god me too. SO MANY straight female friends who I knew would never consider actually sleeping with or dating me, but felt the need to constantly say shit like “I’m sooooo drunk I’d probably even *let* you touch my boobs”, “if I was GAY I would totally be your perfect woman!”, etc, etc. With one former friend, it got into actual sexual harassment territory with her pressuring me into touching her boobs in front of guys “for laughs”.They weren’t bicurious, just LOVED the idea of me having an unrequited crush on them, which was awkward because it virtually never happened with girls who were remotely my type. They just kinda assumed that all queer women would be crazy for their magical straight girl boobs or something
I HATE this. I identify as bisexual and have definitely experienced this. The worst episode of unrelenting sexual harassment I’ve ever experienced was at a friend’s birthday party when another friend of hers (a woman) started demanding that I kiss my friend (um, no), then TRYING TO YANK UP MY SHIRT AND PULL DOWN MY JEANS. In the middle of the afternoon in someone’s kitchen surrounded by a bunch of other people. It was truly horrifying. And what’s worse, when I brought it up to my friend afterwards, she tried doing the whole “oh she was drunk, she gets like that, English isn’t her first language so she misunderstood, etc.”
It took me blowing up at her to get her to acknowledge how very deeply not okay that was. I still get angry when I think about it.
WOW. Flat-out sexual assault is not magically okay just because it’s a drunk straight woman doing the assaulting. Just *reading* that made me angry.
I was SO angry about it. This was a woman I don’t know very well and her behavior was 100% unacceptable, full stop, under any circumstances. I kind of regret not head-butting her.
Afterwards my friend who hosted the party was making noises about going on a beach trip with this woman as part of the group and I had to tell her that she could invite one of us or the other one, but not both. Fortunately we’re sort of from different friend circles that only overlap on major things like birthdays so it’s unlikely that I’ll see her again any time soon.
If I do, and if she does the same thing, God help her because I will mop the floor with her.
You may or may not be a paranoid prude, but I have definitely experienced what you describe.
I am another non-straight woman who has also experienced 3. Though I will say this, and that’s that I actually *do* like talking about sex with my close friends who I know are comfortable with that…I kinda get the impression from some (not all absolutely not) of this that there are people who think people who like talking about sex/boys are immature, but I don’t think that has to be true. Absolutely the way these people are doing it is not OK but I just want to say that there are people out there who like talking about some of this who can handle boundaries!
Okay so upon re-reading my post, I can see how I might come off that way and I feel a need to explain/backtrack. I’m not judgey about friends who (mutually) enjoy talking about sex together- not even if it’s their favorite subject and they talk about it 24/7! Me, myself, I’m not into it so much and my friends know that and respect it. (BUT! That’s the difference between my relationship with my friends and the LW’s.) They also know that I’m down when it’s truly entertaining. For example, one friend recently told me about her night with this gorgeous Québécois/sexily accented surfer dude that she had been lusting over. Apparently, during sexytime he kept deliberately draping his (admittedly luscious) long hair over her face and it was all up in her mouth and nose and then (you know when) threw back his head and literally howled like a wolf. I laughed my ass off cuz that shit was HILARIOUS and no, I didn’t feel awkward in the least.
But we (my friends and I) don’t LIVE in that space. And if any of my friends expressed discomfort over discussing any specific subject and the others just bulldozed over her boundaries, I would go straight from side to evil eye without blinking. For starters.
It may not be common, but I’ve definitely seen straight guys do similar sexual harassment of gay guys in really blatant ways. Groping, personal space invasion, mock-flirting, asking way personal questions…. And when I mentioned it to my mother she said she’d seen the same thing at work in the eighties. Obviously I can’t say whether it’s sexually motivated or not, but the straight men I’ve seen doing it were pretty clearly experiencing sheer unbridled delight making gay men uncomfortable. I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a weird variety of homophobia.
The first time I ever saw it happening was at high school, and it was also the first time I ever saw a guy doing “Well I’m clearly uncomfortable and verging on upset but I’m going to laugh because if I don’t I’m scared it’ll get worse.”
It absolutely is a form of homophobia, even if it’s not one that normally gets talked about/identified as such.
In my high school, a lot of girls mock-flirted with their friends. Fair enough – I do this with my friends sometimes! What wasn’t fair enough was the way I [a queer girl] and my then girlfriend [who the last time I knew her identified as straight with me as an ‘exception’] got singled out for what was basically sexual harassment. Groping our boobs, snapping/trying to undo our bra straps, insistently hitting on us, trying to stick their hands up my girlfriend’s skirt. One end-of-term sports lesson was a free-for-all, just-have-fun day. I literally spent the entire hour running away from a gang of girls chasing me and trying to grope me. I did that “If I don’t laugh it’ll get worse” laugh all the way, with a side order of “If I laugh I can pretend this isn’t as horrifying as it actually is”.
Any time we tried to get them to knock it off, we were met with, “Oh, we’re just JOKING, we don’t mean it, we’re not LESBIANS.”
Sorry to vomit my feelings/experiences. This just hit a nerve 😦
Oh God. That’s awful and I had no idea it was even a thing. Sorry you had to go through that.
Yeah, it’s definitely a thing, and, like you said, for some reason one that I’ve seldom seen discussed. Maybe because it’s a variety of homophobia along the lines of that “hahaha let’s act like we’re gay it’s the height of comedy because we’re not gay that would be so weird can you imagine but also we’re not homophobic hahaha so it’s okay if we pretend to be gay” straight comedians are so fond of. It’s homophobia but it’s not out and out hate speech, so it’s considered totally cool, apparently.
What happened to you sounds like a succession of godawful experiences, and no wonder you wanted to vent. The idea that sexual assault is somehow negated by sexual orientation is such an ignorant, odious concept.
I’ve experienced 3. too, although not with physical harassment (still, the unwanted flirting/advances were pretty uncalled for, hurtful, and definitely an expression of power over me — she was self-aggrandizing by asserting that I found her attractive but couldn’t have her).
That aside, this situation sounds to me like it’s more likely either straight-up (pun intended) homophobia (LOOK AT HOW STRAIGHT WE ARE!) on the part of LW’s “friends” or trolling/bullying, neither of which is really any better. Still, it’s difficult to tell at a distance. None of these are good options.
I’ve had #3 happen a bunch. It’s quite puzzling because you get the sense that this straight (or at least not out) woman is flirting with you and you pick up on that signal, but there is nothing to do about it. Sometimes the woman in question even has a boyfriend that I’ve met before. What is the desired response from their side? Validation that they’re hot or something? Sometimes it’s because they want me to help them get home from a party or do some other task for them. It’s interesting but ultimately I find it annoying. I end up feeling played with or kind of gaslighted.
Yeah, you’re not alone. I’m pretty openly bi [at least people think I’m a] woman and I had a woman I spent a lot of time with do this and I still feel a bit weird about being like a Nice Guy(TM) but that left a really bad taste in my mouth. There was a point where she used to sit on my knee a lot and be all flirty but would drop me like a stone to hang out with other people (including when we discussed travelling to another city together when we were in Bangkok but she started sleeping with one of the guys and just stopped talking to me) and yeah.
I’m very down with flirting but I don’t like being used. /making it about me
I don’t have time to read through all the comments right now, so maybe it isn’t just me, but I get the strongest feeling your friends are hitting on you. Especially when they talk about how horrible intercourse is. I think they want you to jump into the breach and say “well darling, let me show you just how wonderful this can be!” And they have a “safe” way of exploring a fantasy without actually asking. Regardless of their motive, people who do not respect boundaries should not have the privilege of your company. As the Captain says, find out who respects you, keeps those as friends and ditch the others.
Is this hanging out in a group where they all talk about things you could care less about with each other, or hanging out one on one where they talk directly at you about things you’ve expressed disinterest in?
If its the former, you could try inviting them one on one to some kind of activity that lends itself to talking about the activity. Such as… watching a TV show (where you’ve picked the show to not be terribly heteronormative), or going on a hike, or going grocery shopping or … taking a still life art class together. Then, they won’t have an audience for the topics you don’t care about, and will have a topic you do care about.
If its the latter, then, um, yeah. Try a new friend group? Some people will be interested in what you’re interested in! And that’ll be great. 🙂 You can also try utter disinterest and beginning to talk about something else as if there isn’t anything left to say on the topic you don’t like (“I see. Have you seen the latest photos from the hubble? They’re really beautiful!” or “oh. nice. Have you heard the latest song from (artist you like)? I really like what they do with the tempo changes”. (I have no idea how to apply this to a group setting, but one on one it can get you a topic you care about for at least a little while. It does require some prep though).
I have a large, very open, _extremely candid_ group of girlfriends of various orientations which often also includes two boys. They’re generally amused by us, bless them, and we don’t get into uncomfortable subjects without at least some discussion or forewarning, and if someone is uncomfortable, that is communicated to the group at large. However, sometimes the boys really need to leave the room, either for their own sanity or because something has come up where a significant portion of the ladies present would like to curse out all men for all eternity, and the boys would put a damper on that (being the awesome specimens they are and all that.)
I thought maybe some of their party-setting scripts might be useful for you, if you’re dealing with groups. (The girls often use these, too – almost all of us have triggers of one type or another, so if the subject turns, for example, to dieting, you’ll see about half of us standing up and leaving.)
– Oh wow, that’s getting really involved and I don’t feel comfortable. Side party in the kitchen [or other location close by], anyone? ::gets up and goes::
– Jeez, I’m sorry that happened. I really can’t relate, so I think I should withdraw. ::commence side party in kitchen::
– Okay – can we please change the subject? Otherwise I’m just gonna go play on my phone.
– Oh god, stop, TMI! It sounds like you ladies need some privacy to discuss this stuff. I’m just gonna get on that.
– That sounds really awful. You should maybe see a professional – the best I can offer is a hug. Just… keep in mind the hugs are always available and I’d really prefer if you just asked for them, sometimes, without the explanation. I’m not really comfortable discussing [subject matter].
– Hey! Warn a guy when you think this subject is going to come up. (we have certain subjects where we warn the guys/each other. It’s developed very organically in the group, fortunately.)
– OY! You ignored the mandatory warning! I’m leaving!
– I’m just going to go over there, since this is obviously a very important subject and you could use some discussion time. I just have nothing to contribute and think my presence wouldn’t help, either.
Hope that helps some. Good luck!
These are lovely. 🙂 Thank you for sharing them!
Also, I have a personal script for getting shown dicks/dickpics/stuff that is clearly intended to gross me out or make me uncomfortable. It’ll be really awkward at first and it’s kind of a slash-and-burn last-resort method, but here is how I do it:
1. Stare at picture. For a long while. In silence. Tilt my head.
2. Tilt my head to the other side. Say “huh” in as surprised a voice I can manage.
3. Grab for whatever it is – piece of paper, phone, etc. Or lean closer if it’s on a fixed screen. Say “huh” again.
4. Your friend should be getting uncomfortable. Maybe they’ll try to grab whatever it is back. Either way, say something along the lines of “no, wait, I think I’ve…” Never finish the sentence. Don’t let them take thing away. If they didn’t try, bringing it closer to your face and then back like you can’t see it properly works well.
5. Stare as long as you can manage. If you can manage to exude a growing sense of bewilderment, do so. It takes practice, but it’s pretty useful if you can manage it – for other stuff, too!
6. Then say something dismissive and hand whatever it is back, or lean back from the screen. All that staring in step 5 should give you plenty of time to come up with something BURNING.
Suggestions: if it’s some sort of art, say something along the lines of: “is that really how it looks? Huh,” or “I prefer realism in my art.” Or, if you know anything about drawing, do art critique: use of light, foreshortening, the whole nine yards.
If it’s photographs of genitalia or naked guys, go with something like: “What is that [tiny feature of photograph you’ve had time to notice due to step 5]. Looks like a rash,” or “wow, that guy is very… oiled,” or “he really looks like my cousin Joe.” If you’re comfortable, whip out your own media and offer a picture of a hawt naked lady.
If it’s a couple having sex or a sex position: “how are they even comfortable? I guess I can see why you’re always complaining” or “oh wow. Do people bend that way? Do you bend that way?” for optimal effect, try to bend yourself that way.
If it’s an actual dick, on an actual boy and you’re in a safe enough space, I would advise against the grabbing or moving closer sections of the above. “Is that a rash?” works well in this instance. So does “Hunh. I thought you’d be bigger,” if you know him and “Hunh. I’d have thought you’d be bigger” if you don’t. Ditto for guys sending dickpics.
Like I said, this doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can stomach it, I’ve found that when people are trying to shock you, the best way to get them to stop is always to make whatever it is they’re using utterly and completely mundane. It can backfire, but it usually hasn’t for me.
Heh, I would just go in for the full art criticism route. “why yes, it is very Carravagesqe”.
Haha your comment reminded me of http://critiquemydickpic.tumblr.com/
This sounds effective. Personally, I just say / type “Why?” repeatedly until the subject is entirely dropped.
I love this.
Oh, nice! I may borrow some of those (luckily, the groups I’m part of tend to be very forward about boundaries, but they may come in handy). Thank you for sharing ^__^
If there are someone who’d like somewhat subtler techniques, this is what I’ve got:
a) (in a quiet voice, either during a lull in the conversation or as an aside to a perceptive friend) “I don’t like talking about this”, “This subject brings back bad memories”, “I don’t like this subject”, etc.
Then stay quiet for two to five minutes and watch as either the conversation redirects itself or your friend skillfully takes it to safer waters. I find this works better if you make plain (through your body language or whatever other means you like) that the subject bothers you. If the people of the group care about you, someone will catch up on your feelings and redirect, and since they want you to feel comfortable, the rest of the group will follow swift.
Warning! This may not work if all the people in the group are oblivious straightforward loud-mouths like myself, but chances are there’ll be someone there apt at catching hints. If you can, direct your hint at them.
b) Start a side-conversation with a person near you on another topic you can get really into, as a way of blocking out the other subject.
c) Go for a bathroom/refreshment break and take ten minutes off. The moment you re-enter the room, tell your friends about something interesting (while totally unrelated to the other subject) that happened in the meanwhile. Examples:
“While I was away I saw a really cool bird from the window! It was like this…” “My friend X just sent me a really funny Y through FB, check it out!” “Hey, I brought back drinks, anyone up for iced-tea?”
Of course, these are useful if the group you’re in cares about your comfort levels. If they don’t, the only thing that I can think of is leaving or finding better things to do with your time (I’m not above whipping out a book and getting my ignore mode on).
LW, you don’t have to stop being friends with straight ladies! As the commenters said, not all straight ladies like speaking of sex, partners or rapey dynamics, and there are lots of people whose interests may mesh better with yours, be them ladies or not, straight or not.
Listen to the Captain’s advice and enforce your boundaries: if there are people in this group who respect them (and that means they value you as a person), you’ll find them out and can focus on them. If there are not… Well, it sucks, but give yourself permission to take some space for yourself, maybe hang out with them less frequently and start exploring other groups of people you think you might like. I’ve made awesome new friends this way, by being a bit disappointed or bored and seeking different conversations. I didn’t stop seeing my previous friends, I just take them now in smaller doses, and it’s good for me. I think this could work for you too. Good luck! 🙂
RE: pyn’s and other’s points on #notallstraightpeople, I feel it’d may be better to add a few things to my previous answer, for the sake of clarity.
I’m a lesbian who loves talking about sex extensively, in detail, in public, over food, in a perfectly normal voice that sometimes even carries over if I’m feeling particularly ticked off by heteronormativity. My little contribution to visibility, as it were.
I actually started doing it to offer a counterpoint to annoying conversations about dicks, which frankly didn’t interest me. I’m all for not making people uncomfortable, but only IF they’re making the same effort for you.
Skip this if it’s not your cup of tea, LW, but if they’re making the situation uncomfortable or offensive for you with all the constant penis-inside-vagina* talk, you could reflect some of the awkward (or of the aggression, if they’re doing it on purpose) back at them with explicit vagina-on-vagina* talk. Bonus points for creative gesticulation, sound effects, and detailed descriptions of bodily fluids while staring people dead in the eye.
However, as almost everyone has pointed out, it’s really bad behaviour to keep talking about a subject someone has expressed dislike against, especially if one claims to be their friend. That’s breaking your boundaries, LW, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it.
*And let’s not forget: women can have penises, men can have vaginas and people of every gender identity can have any and all kind of body parts and still be helluva sexy, because biology is awesome like that. No matter what our dear heterocissexist society says: if you’re into sex, you’ll find people who are into you sexually, whatever your body may look like.
Queer ladyperson who is 24 here, have friends across a broad spectrum of sexualities. I discuss sex with a few of them, not many. Everyone who I would talk about sex with is also someone I talk about MANY OF/ALL THE OTHER THINGS with (like word origins, or elaborate plans to take over the universe, or the optimum set-up for a cheesy seventies family portrait complete with terrible sweaters.)
I wouldn’t say straight people were over-represented in this category, and the discussion rarely involves mentioning actual genitals.
My friends and I talk about Magic cards and textbook prices and obscure YA books all day, and sex is only mentioned at night over text message when we need advice or during the wind-down of parties when all the squeamish people have had time to make their exits. If we end up mentioning genitals to the group at large, we’ve made damnsure to trigger-warning that schist.
I’m happy that I’ve never been part of a group that was so aggressively oversharing. (I wasn’t part of many groups. Maybe if I’d gone out more…)
Add my voice to the general ugh of ‘if you ask these people do not talk about [explicit topic] and to not talk about [single topic] all of the time, and they keep doing it, then they are either very boring people who have only a couple of subjects they can talk about, or very rude people, or both.
I also want to express my bogglement at the people who keep complaining about their partners. I mean, it’s not as if my partner doesn’t sometimes do things that make me roll my eyes (and sometimes things that Flat Out Annoy Me); but I’m doing the same, and we either talk about it and find solutions (‘can we please declare x a widget-free zone as I keep bumping into them’) or, well, we’re human. We make mistakes, leave things in awkward places, don’t buy bread when we said we would, *and we both do it*. Getting upset at either ourselves or the other person doesn’t make those things unhappen; more stress does not lead to less awkwardness. But I also find that I cannot get worked up over small things; I might roll my eyes, but I am beginning to have the suspicion that when people *do* get worked up over those things they’re not the only things that upset them, maybe merely the most prominent things, and the ones they feel could be most easily solved (don’t do x, please remember to do y). And maybe if you have a situation where something is really important to you and you ask another person to help make you comfortable and they don’t even try, then it becomes an issue in itself… which leads us back to ‘friend, can you please not talk about [subject I have no interest in] when we’re having a one-to-one conversation’ where an outright refusal is a sign that something about the relationship is not working.
Oh. I’m sorry, LW. I was like that when I was 17 or so. I had just lost my virginity and basically thought I was totally cool and grown up now. Sex and the City was still around then – or had just ended, I can’t remember – which did not help dispel my perception that grown up (straight) women are supposed to talk about sex all the time. It lasted probably the
better part of a year, after which I realised that some people actually really don’t want to talk about it that much and stopped talking about sex to people who didn’t enthusiastically participate in the conversation.
The good news is I’m now 27 and can’t remember the last time I swapped details about my sex life with a platonic friend. After a while it just became a normal thing that happens and is not even worth talking about.
So I guess what I’m saying is, I get where your friends are coming from, not to try and excuse them or anything. It is still very rude. If they are young, which it sounds like they are, then they likely will outgrow the constant dick talk even without prompting. But you’re perfectly in the right to prompt anyway or even just decide to take a breather from the friendship.
yes, I was thinking that the conversations LW relates remind me of what I hear my 15-year-old daughter and her friends talk about, except that they’re all on various gender and orientation spectrums and the kids are just as enthusiastic talking about everybody’s interactions.
I’ve left a longer comment upthread LW, but you deserve better than this rank immaturity. I built my ragtag group of IRL and online friends starting in about 1999, and I have “family’ of all ages, in every location and across my weird mix of interests!
Widening my friend pool led me on actual adventures across this country, to Germany, and Greece. I have friends for every type of conversation. One of my best friends is my mam’s age! I have wealthy friends, fellow povs, and everything in between. I even met my partner of ten years online while trying to meet fellow singletons!
Best of luck. Apologies for any weird spelling or grammar, typing on a phone after my bedtime meds!
I’m a lesbian and have also come across this behaviour, including from women in their 30s/40s. My personal theories FWIW of where it’s coming from are:
1) sadly some straight people do still feel threatened by the idea of a women who don’t need men, because of being brought up in a society where heterosexuality is seen as normal/natural. So when around you they feel an urge to be heterosexual AT you, because they find your sexual orientation threatening.
2) Because sexual orientation is seen as being about sex, sometimes when straight people meet gay/bi people, all they can think about is what (they think) we get up to in bed – instead of seeing a human being in front of them, all the bad ‘lesbian’ porn they’ve ever watched starts playing the moment you walk in a room, so their conversations with you become focussed on the topic of sex.
3) They think being a lesbian is about hating men rather than loving women, so feel an urge to bring up men constantly around you to try to bait you into revealing your true man-hating colours.
My own experience is that it’s not really possible to change these behaviours in people, because the myths, stereotypes and insecurities they’re rooted in are so deep, and we live in a society where it’s considered OK for higher status people (straight people, white people etc) to act out their issues and insecurities with lower status people (eg gay/bi people, black people) and expect those lower status people to do all the emotional/empathy work in that interaction. But if you do decide to try to hang on it there then I hope you have better luck and are able to change your friends’ behaviour for the better.
It sounds like with one or two of your friends there could be a totally separate thing going on where they are with an abusive partner (if they experience sex as horrible and painful then this is not OK and is not ‘just how it is’ for heterosexual women – straight women can and do enjoy sex when it is with a non-abusive man) – so it is possible that they’re using you as a ‘reality checker’ – they know that something isn’t right in the relationship and are seeking an outside perspective, but are also scared of facing up to what’s going on in the relationship so deliberately speak to someone who’s opinion they can dismiss as ‘just a lesbian who knows nothing about straight sex/relationships’ if what you’re saying feels to scary for them to hear right now. So with those friends, if you feel able to, you could try some of the advice the Captain gives elsewhere about supporting friends who you are concerned may be in unhealthy or abusive relationships.
Yep, Dykotomy hit several nails right on the head. (Good job, Dykotomy!)
Many straight people will start talking about deeply personal sex stuff whenever they have an LGBT person as an audience, because they assume we’re all about sex, sex, sex. They think they don’t need to hold back with us as they would with their straight friends. They seem to think that lesbian = pervy sex slut, and then they start thinking about their wildest sexual adventures (like every LGBT person in the world is of course enjoying daily). They think because we’re queer or trans we must be cool with hearing intimate details that they know other people might find offensive. It’s really disrespectful of us, especially if you have already expressed boundaries with them.
Second point. If you truly value these women’s friendship and don’t want to lose them, try seeing them individually instead of in a group.You need to figure out what it is that you value in each friend and whether you want to maintain that friendship. Let them know that you are more than a sexual being and how the incessant talk about sex and boyfriends is not comfortable for you. Let them know what you do enjoy about being with them and ask if they can focus more on other aspects of their lives. If they don’t get it, or won’t respect your boundaries, let them go.
You have grown and your what you seek friendship has changed. That’s why everyone lets go of some old friends and that’s why we make new friends who are more compatible and in synch with us as we change.
I agree with the above posters that both LW and her friends sound very young. Not just in the “want to gossip about sex” sense but in the “life is black and white!” sense.
The only things I have to add:
1) friends in bad situations who complain to you often but do nothing about it will happen in life. Keep something in your back pocket like, “ive tried to hear you out and ive tried to offer advice. But nothing seems to change and because i care about you it hurts me to hear this. So lets take a break from this subject and talk about other things”. There are ways to help someone who is suffering, like bringing them food, looking after their kids, researching resources in the area, doing fun things, etc. Someone who only wants to spew negativity at you should get a journal
2) LW, do you have real life female friends who are into women? I got the feeling you dont, and while I disagree that somehow straight girls are off the table (good grief!), sometimes its nice to spend time with other girls who are into girls. It might take some of the edge off of being saturated with heteronormativity at all times.
I feel you, LW, kinda. I’m not gay, I don’t think, but I’m generally just … uninterested in sex and dating and sometimes it feels like it’s all everybody can talk about. There’s a whole universe of possible topics – tv shows, books, politics, science, even bloody sport, but somehow little floppy (or not so floppy, I hear) pieces of flesh going into holes of other flesh are more interesting?! Sorry for the most unappealing description of anything, ever, it’s just not my thing. For the record, some of my friends are gay and I find their sex lifes equally as boring. But unlike you, I’ve never actually asked them to stop discussing these things in front of me and it’s extremely uncool of your friends to do so.
Here is an extremely unhelpful list of things I’ve done to avoid discussing THE SEX:
1. Pretended to fall asleep.
2. Actually fell asleep.
3. Woke up to find THE SEX is still being discussed and fell sleep again. (Helps if it’s a sleepover, but if you’ve got dedication …)
4. Pretended to go momentarily deaf. (Oh, sorry! I didn’t hear that thing about THE SEX you said right next to my ear. How’s your job?)
5. Went home and watched the Game of Thrones.
Hm. This turned out kind of sad.
I have done 2&3 quite a few times before! Sometimes repeatedly in one night. I was a very dedicated (to sleep) sleep deprived college student 🙂
I mean, over the years it’s slowly happened that I have very few close straight friends anyway – most of the older friends have come out as some variety of LGBTQAI and the newer friends have always been so during our interactions – but my limited adult experience says that not all straight women talk like that.
(Also, the female world is not divided into straight women and lesbians; there are women of so many orientations I don’t have time to list them).
Me, I might appear straight to the casual observer. I’m a cis woman who married a cis man. But both of us are bi in the ‘same gender and other genders but not ALL genders’ way, and sort of weird romantically. I talked a lot about sex in my mid teens when I was still figuring myself out and trying to impress other people with how grown up and adult I was.It sounds like your friends might be in that stage, and you’re feeling like the odd one out because you haven’t met your people yet.
If you want to maintain these friendships, set boundaries like a lot of the excellent commenters have already said – but try to build an extra friendship group. This doesn’t need to be from scratch. You can start by maybe joining an LGBT group of some kind. This would not only give you people to talk to with whom you already had one thing in common, it would introduce you to a wide variety of different people of different genders and sexualities. Which might help you feel less like you don’t fit.
If after a while of this you feel closer and happier with your new friends, maybe it’s time to let the old ones go? If you aren’t happy in their company and you have nothing in common, there’s no shame in that.
Also, your internet lesbians are giving you… misguided advice. Approach it with caution and healthy suspicion.
I found that it helps to have one chill person at gatherings, so I can just exit from those conversations and still have someone to be sociable with. In one case it’s the boyfriend of a friend – it sounds like you have all-female gatherings, maybe mixing that up will tone down the sex talk? And mixing friends between social groups – my uni friends are so helpful around work friends because they can be more direct with changing the topic, while I’m always worried about getting shit at work the next day.
Also, talking with them one-on-one might help? It can be hard in a group, because they’ll be getting confirmation from each other that their behaviour is normal and okay, and it’ll be all of them against just you. But one-on-one, you aren’t arguing with a team of friends, just one person who is going to be responsible for their side of the conversation and hopefully take you seriously.
But yeah. It sounds like there’s a bunch of stuff going on here. You will not be able to fix your friends, or make them recognise the toxic shit in their relationships. But hopefully you can set boundaries, stop being harassed, and have some fun times.
Seconding the plan of talking to them one-on-one. Like pick the most resonable person in the group and be honest about how uncomfortable it makes you. If they’re a really cool person, they may be able to be your ally in changing the subject when it gets a bit too much.
I dealt with the same problem with a group of queer women friends I had awhile back. I’m bi and generally very open about sex, but there is a certain point where I just feel awkward knowing the intimate details about my friends’ sex lives (I have to look at these people you speak of! In the eye!). Like, some people would share details about other friends’ relationships/sex- not just their own! At the time I thought that queer women were just more open, but have since learned that this is 1. very common among straight women and 2. a lot of people are not like this at all. Really, it was just this particular group of people.
The whole complain-about-my-partner-constantly thing bugs the crap out of me as well. I always think “Why not just break up?” but I don’t say it because of my own experiences hearing that while with an abusive partner (other responses upthread go over this more than mine- thanks to those who explained why hearing this can hurt while in an abusive situation). I absolutely hate hate hate that the end of so many of these types of conversations with straight women is “Well, they’re men, what do you expect haha!”. Actually lots of men cook/clean/fuck well, I’ve met them! One of those guys is my bf right now even!
I realized that being *private* about sex is different from being *ashamed* of sex. It was a tough line for me to find, but has been helpful 🙂
Same goes for friends who’s partners you socialise with too. Like I’ve got a pretty ok-with-sex and possible TMI -talk group that I see regularly, but those of us in more committed relationships all *know* and sometimes socialise with each other’s partners. It’s probably not a big deal that I know X’s boyfriend leaves used teabags lying around and it drives her nuts. It’s definitely NOT ok for her to tell me about his genitals or sexual preferences. I think one of the major things about sex-sharing is that unless you’re talking masturbation, theres another (or several other) parties involved too and theres only so much you can share without seriously violating another person’s privacy. I think that’s why a lot of people shift out of that “share everything” teenage gossipy type of friendship and into something more private when they grow up.
YES to these comments!
In my group of female friends (of all different sexual orientations), sex-talk is definitely on the table. We’re all comfortable with it, and it has been really informative and empowering for us to be able to talk about sex and (for lack of a better word) “private parts” in a safe space. I remember we once looked up pictures of female genitalia with a friend who was *convinced* that hers was abnormal and so she was too embarrassed to let anyone go down on her. For me personally, I only stopped thinking that masturbation was dirty and ikcy because two female friends were like “Uh, girl, IT’S GREAT AND THERE AIN’T NO SHAME IN IT AND YOU SHOULD TRY IT”.
That being said, there are certain things that we DON’T talk about. I don’t want to know the size of my friend’s husband penis, nor what cup size my friend’s girlfriend is. Like you said, that stuff is private, and I’m gonna being seeing that person later on this week at a BBQ! I have found that as we’ve gotten older, the sexual things we share are more general (“New boyfriend and I are having a ~*great time*~ [eyebrow waggle]!” / “Oh man, this new Pill is really affecting my sex drive”) and usually not specifics about partners.
LW, you have my sympathies. As another woman who spent a lot of time excluded from female bonding sessions because she wasn’t keen on the nigh-inevitable subject matter of said bonding sessions (I’m a fat woman who doesn’t participate in diet or weight loss talk) it can feel very lonely. This is especially the case while you’re younger and your age peers are more interested in conforming with the popular image of how people of their age, class and race are supposed to be.
That said, it appears to me your particular friend group is either a) engaged on a mission of evangelism on behalf of the Church of the Upstanding Peen, b) fishing for details of your lesbian sex life or possibly a pass on the sly, or c) denser than lead. If it’s the first, you might point out to them that sharing stories of how BAD things are with their boyfriends, and how BAD and PAINFUL the sex is do not inspire anyone to convert, so sorry about that (there’s a distinct sense nobody bothered to sit down and think through “what result do we want here, and is what we’re doing likely to achieve it?”). If it’s the second, you’re going to have to be fairly straightforward about “if I think it’s your business I’ll tell you, but until then, it isn’t your business”. If it’s the last, you may have to deliver hints via anvil from low orbit. Or in other words, be incredibly blunt about how offensive and juvenile you find this constant focus on sex and man-parts.
Really focus in on the “juvenile” aspect of it. If your friends group and yourself are the age I suspect (very early twenties at most), “juvenile” is going to be the killer here. Quite frankly from the way you’ve described them, they sound like a vaguely aged-up group of middle-schoolers giggling over sex-ed lessons.
In the meantime, might I second the Captain’s advice of finding a different friend group to hang with? The vast majority of people tend to take the very reasonable attitude that details of personal sex lives aren’t for public consumption.
Say No to Peen Evangelism may been to be cross-stiched on a cushion somewhere in my home.
Hey LW! You and your friends sound pretty young, which is why I’m going to say gently that you should think about how alienating and hurtful it is to trans women to say lesbians are all grossed out/uninterested in penises. This is a thread through your whole letter, that dicks = men = bad, when it’s not that black and white for everyone.
Also, your friends sound like jerks, so good luck.
As a straight woman, I love hanging out with other women (gay or straight), and sometimes engaging in gender stereotypical activities (I love crafting and afternoon tea). However, I cannot stand interactions that feel exclusive, pits the genders against each other, and paints a whole group of people with the same brush. For example, I’m all for talking about romantic relationships, and sharing frustrations about a particular romantic partner, but I don’t want to engage in any talk that has a flavour of “all men are like x” or “all sex is like y”. However, I think sometimes it’s easy to fall into a trap of talking this way when the culture of the friendship group supports this, and people bond over having a mutual scapegoat. I have two suggestions that may help the LW in building friendships based on mutual interests and sharing experiences, and avoiding sexist and heteronormative conversations.
1. Find some queer friendly activities that interest you (movies, art exhibitions, talks, poetry readings), and invite one or two close women friends who you think may have the most potential in terms of accepting and understanding these activities, and having a thoughtful conversation with you about it afterwards. See what shakes loose when these women are exposed to lifestyles and values that may be different from their own. Hopefully this leads to some interesting conversations, but if not, at least you get to share an activity that means something to you.
2. Do any of the boyfriends seem cool to hang? Could you invite a couple to a group activity that is interesting to everyone? Something like going on a hike, or going bowling. If you are seeing someone at the time, you could make it a double date even. Hopefully in this kind of activity, you will be saved from any complaining about the boyfriend, and everyone gets to enjoy an activity that does not depend on their gender or sexual orientation.
If however, you find that your friends tend to dominate the conversation, and talk about other people disparagingly even in these contexts, you will know that your problems can’t be solved by shaking up the context, and that you probably need cooler friends.
For the love of god, don’t invite your straight friends to queer activities or spaces. That ruins it for literally EVERYONE ELSE THERE who doesn’t want to be a teachable moment. Especially friends who behave as badly as you’ve described.
I’d definitely recommend going to these sorts of spaces/events/activities yourself though and meeting other LGBTQ people.
But seriously, folks, can we make 2015 the year of not-bringing-straight-people-into-queer-spaces-because-it-makes-them-unsafe-for-actual-queer-people?! Please?!
Seconded. I give it a pass if a straight friend is there to support to a LGBT+ person who’s new to the group for the first couple of times, but I get uncomfortable when there are a bunch of straight people there more often that that, especially if I get the sense that they’re there to oggle “The Gays” or use us as tools to broaden their horizons or w/e. They need to work on their enlightenment on their own. Queer spaces aren’t meant to be Very Special Episodes for straight people.
However, I agree with the above poster that LW definitely shouldn’t bring these friends to an LGBT+ event, not even once. It sounds like they’d likely dominate conversations and possibly trigger people who deal with trauma and/or sex dysphoria. At the very least, they might make most people uncomfortable.
Yes I totally agree with you that these events are not there for straight people to be entertained/enlightened, and get what you’re saying here. I guess I was thinking more along the lines of the first scenario you mentioned, seeing as LW said that she didn’t know many non-straight women in real life. However, I can see that the attitudes that LW described in her friends would at best be unpleasant, or worse, potentially triggering, for other people.
Uh LW I feel for you on this one. I’m a bi woman but I’m not out at work which is in and of itself a little weird and uncomfortable because someone once straight up asked me if my ex was a man and I said yes (which was true) and because bi people don’t exist I am forever after straight and I was in my first week and didn’t want to volunteer any extra personal information so now I feel like I lied to them… Anyway I work in a team that consists entirely of straight women (heh, as far as I know) and they *do* talk a lot about sex and men. Not so much the explicit sex talk about details of the act, but lots of which guy is hottest stuff that completely crosses the line for the work place. It’s not that I’m squicked out by talk of sex with dudes – I’m not at all – it’s just so intrusive and inappropriate. For example once at a team outing one lady decided we should play “fuck, marry, kill” about our male work colleagues and everyone else played along. I refused to play and actually physically left the room when they responded to my refusal with a huge amount of pressure, but they were still going when I got back. And not only was it a hugely inappropriate discussion of our colleagues (can you imagine if the genders were reversed!!) I was really uncomfortable. Because I’m also attracted to women, and there was no way in hell I was going to admit that at that table. And it was a weird, as you say alienating, experience. I felt at that moment extremely closeted in a way I don’t usually (I’m out to basically everyone else I know anyway).
So I wonder if this isn’t just that they keep talking about stuff you don’t want to hear about (which is icky enough to be sure) but also that they’re not really validating your existence as a lesbian? Like, how would they react if you started telling lesbian sex stories (not saying you should, because I think your friends sound over-sharey in any case) but would it be welcome or would they be shocked and appalled? Could you be open with them about girlfriend problems, and lesbian lady problems? Do you exist right now in a suffocating pall of straightness that you couldn’t imagine really contributing any lesbian-stuff to?
Because if yes that sucks. And it’s another reason to broaden your friend group. Seriously, these work ladies freak me out, but my actual friends are not like that. Some of my actual friends are very open about sex stuff sometimes but it’s a very diverse social group with a mix of sexual orientations and genders so it never feels excluding or alienating even if it is TMI. I just wonder if their talk about relationships rankles you so much because you feel like it would be unthinkable to talk about your own experiences, so it feels really unfair – like you’re not saying anything so why do they get to?
Anyway – it’s nice to have friends you have stuff in common with and feel comfortable with. Even aside from the sex stuff it sounds like you don’t share their hobby interests either and find some of them actively offensive. These people don’t sound like very compatible friends for you.
This is bizarre… As many others here have pointed out, this is not normal behaviour for straight women by any stretch. Incapable of talking about anything but the most explicit details of their sex life and/or the awful sexist drivel of “training” their boyfriends? It’s like they’re characters in a story written by the Anti-Bechdel. I mean, I’m a woman. I went to a large all-girls school. I work in a female-dominated industry. Most of my friends are women. And I do not know nearly this level of detail about any of their intimate lives. Even when I was in a school of thousands of teen girls, I never met any who were like this *all the time*. Some went through phases of it, most grew out of it, but zero out of two thousand were incapable of/refused to talk about other subjects. This isn’t just abnormal, it seems statistically impossible to be the case for all your “friends”. I think the Captain is onto something with the trolling. Maybe they find it fun to see you squirm?
This isn’t a straight-people problem. It’s a shitty-friends problem.
I am a little confused as to who just sits around talking about dicks all the time. I happen to be an asexual married who somehow ended up with two aromantic asexual ladies, one straight perennially single demisexual lass, and one bi coupled demisexual person as my closest friends, so maybe my perception is skewed, but is there really that much material there to cover?
I’m next to certain they’re pushing your buttons, LW. I don’t want to speculate as to why, but no matter the reason, hanging around button-pushers all the time is exhausting. Use the scripts, assert yourself, and perhaps investigate/cultivate friendships where penis isn’t the only thing on the conversational docket.
I do think groups who talk about it as explicitly as LW’s friends do must be pretty rare. I’ve definitely got a small group of friends (of varied sexualities) who I can turn to if I need to talk through something that would generally be TMI with most other people, and I do think that can be a positive dymanic for the people who find it cathartic to be share and maybe comiserate with other people who can relate.
I think the issue here is that LW is NOT a willing participant in these discussions, LW feeling (understandably) uncomfortable and alienated by this discussion is being ignored by the rest of the group, and LW’s friends just generally seem to be handling it pretty immaturely – like fine if some of you want to get into a dick pic compare sesh if thats what you’re both into (general you, not you personally catefish), but since LW is not, stop making LW suffer through it. Especially when it’s just DickBraggy McOvershare and LW one on one. not cool.
For sure. I’d confidently speculate that they seem aware that she’s not down for waxing on about male genitalia. I just don’t see it happening that frequently if they weren’t, even with my limited experience with people who actually feel like talking about this stuff sometimes. Even if I’m wrong and they’re just oblivious, it’s all kinds of not okay to just ignore somebody’s outright expression of discomfort for a topic, no matter what it is.
Do these people live in some weird SITC-meets-50SOG alternate reality? Eww to everything they’re discussing – and I very progressive, sex positive etc. I’ve never had conversations like this. Not even with lovers.
Having said that, I’m at school waiting to collect my son and there’s a group of mothers (loudly) discussing their husbands vasectomies. WTF
Your friends sound like arseholes. I think you need new friends.
I’m sorry to ear that. But as others told you, there are straigh women who donesn’t talk about sex/dicks. I think the captains advice is good because that way you would know who are dense and who doesn’t care about your feelings. Some people think that “you don’t really mean it” when you said something that they don’t want to ear. So telling them “I fell unconfortable when you talk about your personal sex life and problems with your boyfriend. How would you fell if I were all the time talking about what I do with my girlfriends, and their body parts?
Maybe asking would clarify thing, maybe not. And while it’s true that there’s the temptation to use more blunt ways to express that, I don’t think it’s really worth it. On the other hand, sex shouldn’t hurt. So a way to make it stop it’s to tell them that if it hurts he’s doing it wrong*. XD (just kidding, it’s better to walk away).
* In this context and consensual hurt excluded, etc.
Oh gosh, this really reminds me of my sister! She’s three years younger than me, but she’s my complete opposite: she is the reckless one who always acted in a whirl, meanwhile I am the careful one. While I only got initiated in sex in my early 30s, she was already experimenting in her mid teens. Good for her! She was enjoying herself and wasn’t as shy as I was! It was only unsettling for me because she would take advantage of every “sisters only” moment to brag about what she had been experimenting with, making me play the confident. I told her a lot of times that the conversation was not appropriate, but she would laugh patronizingly about what a prude I was. She was doing in on purpose. Our whole lives she has played an one-sided game of Who Is The Best. When I was still living with my parents, she would brag about how amazing it was to live in her own flat (she left our parent household right after she got out of age and got a job, while I left when I was 26). When I was jobless with a university degree, she would brag about how much money she earned with her shop. And then, when she had to close her shop, she began to redirect conversation always to the benefits of marriage and how amazing her husband was in bed. Until I finally got a partner: now, she is all about the wonders of motherhood and about that I should be mother as soon as possible, because I am already considerably “old” at the age of 33.
LW, because this reminds me of my sister, my first interpretation about your situation would be that your friends are showing you those pics to show you “what you’re missing”, which is a convoluted form of pitying you because you will never have a man (“how come that some women don’t want men? Weirdos! Let’s show them what they’re missing!”). I don’t doubt my sister loves me, but her whole game has the objective of making herself feel better, while taking advantage of an atmosphere of complicity. She knows that I cannot ban her: we are sisters! The only I can avoid Who Is The Best conversations is to skip being alone with her, or reacting in VERY RUDE ways, such as saying that the mental images during our conversations are icky, or that I feel an urgent need for mental bleach. I wouldn’t advise you to use the very rude strategy, but maybe it will work.
I’m sorry to hear your sister treats you that way – not cool!
Since you’re being “rude” anyway (I think she’s the rude one, personally, but that’s me), have you ever tried giving her a bored look and saying, “Oh, are we competing again? That’s getting old.” I’ve found that responding with apathy sometimes shuts up the uber-competitive, at least for awhile.
Sorry if you’re not looking for comebacks. People who set up eternal competition scenarios really get under my skin. Best of luck in dealing with her!
I tried the apathy reaction, but she can be really insistent when she want to get heard. She will mentally translate being bored with “MadDissector is only pretending to be bored because she is really jealous of me”. Luckily, right now I make the point of only meeting her in regular family meetings, where keeping a conversation apart is more difficult. If, however, she manages to corner me, I have lately resorted to cowardly use her children as protection.
Sister: “I have to tell you how Husband and I celebrated our anniversary last week. We decided to try something new as foreplay and…”
Me (interrupting): “Niece, come here! I haven’t gotten a kiss for a while! Give me one! Do you want to sit with the adults talking interesting stuff?”
Three-year-old Niece runs to me, gives me a kiss, sits in my lap, looks around expectantly.
Me: “So, what were we talking about?”
Sister (uneasy): “… … …”
Me: “Oh, yes! You were saying that Niece here helped you bake a cake for the first time! Awesome! Tell me more! I love tales of kitchen destruction!”
Niece (explodes in pride and cuteness): “Cake!”
Sister (awkward) proceeds to tell about Strawberry Cake Operation.
I am not proud of this, but it works so far.
Hmmm this seems very strange, even given that it sounds as if these women are very young. If you do African Violet the offenders, do not be afraid that there is a scarcity of women out there who do not act like this.
That feels really uncomfortable and unfun.
Maybe I can shed a little light on the social culture behind this oversharing. I am in my mid 20s, and I have one small group of friends, made up of straight and bi-but-mostly-dates-ladies women, who have all known each other since highschool or before. This is a no-such-thing-as-TMI type of group. Maybe it’s a symptom of having grown up together and essentially learning all of this body and sex stuff in tandem, and discussing this kinda stuff (for us at least) was theraputic as confused teenagers. Maybe because our relationship goes back as far as sleep-over parties where we compared “how far have you *gone*) notes and debriefed on everything from sexual firsts, sexuality questionings, teenage pregnancy scares, body weirdness, you name it, it has felt natural to continue that kind of relationship. I definitely find it comforting to have my little group where I can discuss something that would be TMI with everyone else but my doctor, to have a no judgement whine about my dating dramas or whatever. This is all to say that sometimes these kinds of TMI type friend groups exist organically and work for the people within them.
HOWEVER, the reason they work is because everyone participating in them is a willing participant who gets some comfort and benefit from participating. AND there is also definitely a maturation that needs to happen when adults are participating in these kind of discussions – for example, now that we are adults who know better, we respect the privacy of whoever we’re having sex with by either keeping them anonymous, or if it’s a partner the friends know, being discreet with the details we share that concern *them*. I don’t expect my partner to discuss my vagina with his friends, no matter what, so I in turn would never discuss his genitals with my friends.
I don’t know how old you all are, or where this sort of TMI thing has grown from (maybe like the other commenters have suggested there is some malice in their doing this *at* you, maybe they’re just not being mature about it) but it sounds like they are being really uncool about handling the fact that someone amongst them is no longer/never was a willing participant in these convos. Real friends will get that, and be ok with it, and will curb the sex talk with you, especially one-on-one once they know you’re not cool with it. Even if this is a culture that has formed in your group and these women want an outlet, if they also want to keep being friends with you, I think they should be willing to at least tone it down on the graphic stuff and make an effort to switch the topic up away from boys all the time.
I guess what it comes down to is that they may be finding some positive, cathartic benefits from being able to talk about all this sensitive stuff, and maybe thats why they’re so unwilling to change it. If that’s the case, it might sadly be time to switch them to a more small doses group and seek out some people who are more on your wavelength – so they can continue merrily oversharing and you can enjoy a more varied and less ick-inducing dialogue with some other people.
(Sorry if this is a double post, had some browser troubles so I’m not sure if it went through the first time)
I am a straight lady who very much enjoys men, looking at men, and on occasion talking about sexcapades with men. BUT. I have two friends that I have talking about this stuff with. Everyone else? Nothing ever gets brought up unless they brought it up first. And even then, I proceed hesitantly because I don’t know what they are actually comfortable with or I know what I’m comfortable discussing with them. Your friends are being incredibly rude and assholes. Try the strict boundary enforcement like the Cap said. People that actually are worth your time, while they may still fuck up on occasion, will apologize and move on to something different.
Also, can I suggest trying this out with each of them individually as well? This might be a group dynamic thing, and group dynamics can be INCREDIBLY difficult to break, even if they are well intentioned on the matter. Pick one or two that you think might be a bit more open or considerate or that are closer friends with you, and go on an individual coffee/lunch/whatever meet with them. See if they can discuss other things with you when it’s just you and one other person. Try talking to them individually about your concerns. If nothing else, you can see if it’s a failing on that person’s part, or if it’s a group dynamic taking over. If you can get a couple people in the group on your side, so to speak, individually, you can use them to help break up the group dynamic also (by asking them to help change subjects, or having an aside conversation with them away from the main group sometimes when this breaks out). It’s possible you won’t be able to break up the group dynamic, but at least you’ll know if any of them are worth the effort to keep being friends with individually.
***Note: this could be a lot of work, and you are fully within your rights here (it would be completely and utterly understandable, in fact) to just cut the group away from you. But, if you want to try and salvage something workable, this could be a good route.***
this is not the LWs main point but I felt quite uncomfortable reading that part:
I have to hear about how she can’t walk right for days after they do it because it’s so excruciatingly painful (but it’s okay, she really wants it! Not having a horribly painful experience/vaginal sex, isn’t an option because she wants that /connection/ with him).
This sounds a bit like the LW is blaming her friends for buying into/not fighting off the very skewed sexual dynamics that are the default during sex (with regards whose pain or pleasure is more important and whose pain can be more “easily” endured for whose pleasure) or for actually wanting painful sex. It’s fine if the LW doesn’t wanna hear it, but in the letter I see also judgement in addition to * I dont wanna know*.
You’re right, Karolina — it comes off as judgmental of her friends’ choices of what they do with their bodies. Some types of sex can be painful for some people, and it’s up to those individuals to weigh whether or not they want to engage in that activity. That’s not limited to PIV, by the way — plenty of stuff cis lesbians get up to can also be painful. If LW’s friends are experiencing pain during sex, LW should suggest they talk to a doctor or sex educator. It’s not like her friends are stupid if they continue to have the kind of sex they like, because the benefits (including connection, which…PIV doesn’t have to be more of a connection between partners, but if it is for you, that’s valid) outweigh the drawbacks. Shaming women about their bodies and their sexual responses only makes many of these problems worse. It’s just one more burden on women.
Not only that, but the dynamics of hetero sex especially can be skewed, because of how we are brought up. It is possible that some of the people would prefer to have the connection AND no pain but are making a patriarchal bargain because it’s hard to communicate with their partners that they should be passionate but also hold back (assuming the pain comes from their partners not being gentle enough and is in itself undesired). And then maybe they reason about this choice by overcompensating about how passionate it all is, in order to not see that it could be passionate without affecting their well-being.
I know I did – I definitely would have liked and deserved to have both passion and ease during sex, but sometimes I felt like I could only have one. This can be a matter of incompatibility between two people, but in the society we live in, it manifests itself usually in specific patterns.
There’s a lot of comments essentially amounting to #notallstraightpeople and #asastraightperson and it’s…..frustrating, to say the least. Straight people claiming that they don’t do this thing honestly can’t claim such a thing, because they wouldn’t be on the receiving end of this specific phenomenon to accurately recognize it. And I don’t necessarily mean explicit sex talk, either.
Multiple commenters above have pointed out that the same exact scenarios have happened to them – their straight friends/acquaintances/family go into detail about straight sex/romance/pining/behaviors. Straight is considered normal, a default state of being, so straight people talk about their sex lives and romance to almost anyone because they assume that everyone can relate; likewise, 99% of romantic stories shown are straight relationships, reinforcing the idea that it’s the norm. Even ‘allies’ fall into this behavioral pattern. So yes, straight people do behave in a different way than non-straight people, simply because they are considered the default.
So many people are saying that it isn’t a ‘straight person problem’ but rather a ‘bad friend problem’. I submit that it’s both. LW’s friends are oversharing yeah, but they’re also behaving as many, many straight people do around their non-straight friends. It is a thing, whether straight people want to admit it or not.
Ultimately, a commenter’s first response to a lesbian who is frustrated with her straight friends shouldn’t be “Well we’re not all like that!!” or “Well as a straight person…”
Now to actually be useful;
Letter Writer, you are not alone in this at all. Almost every straight person I’ve befriended has been a lot more explicit in their relationship talk than anyone else. And it’s very difficult to talk to them about it without them getting very defensive. I think Captain Awkward is right – you need new friends, regardless of if you work things out with your current straight friends. I do hope the best for you, LW.
Also! Obligatory reminder that not all men have penises and not all women have vaginas, cissexism is a harmful mindset that we all need to step away from and be mindful of! The idea that lesbians cannot ever like penises is transmisogynistic.
Thanks for this, Pyn, I can see how reading the response and many of the comments would be very frustrating. If we can take one data point from the #notallstraightpeople information, it’s that hey, it’s NOT necessarily routine for straight people to talk explicitly about sex with each other, so that if the LW and other queer folks are noticing a spike in it when they are around, that is significant (and troubling).
I think that sometimes it is actually a spike, but IMO, what’s actually more common is that straight people genuinely don’t always notice that they’re doing it. It’s not necessarily about explicit sexual content, which I agree many people do avoid – it’s the amount of time straight people spend talking about their relationships in general and how much detail in general they’re including when they do so.
It’s definitely a spike. I’m a queer person with a lot of straight passing privilege, and I’ve observed many times that people will suddenly start talking to me about their sex lives when they find out that I’m queer, whereas they did not when they assumed I was straight.
Oversharing is a common product of privilege. Power grants the ability to set the level of social intimacy in a relationship without stopping to check for reciprocity. Men do it to women, white women do it to women of color, straight folks do it to queer folks. Combine that with the (often subconsciously held) belief that queer folks are more interested in or knowledgable about sex, and you’ve got a recipe for straight folks oversharing with queer friends about their sex lives without even realizing that what they’re doing is a micro (and sometimes not-so-micro) aggression.
So while it does sound like the LW has a group of friends who are being particularly hostile to respecting boundaries, I don’t think it’s a product of their age, and they’re not an anomalous group of jerks in the sea of good allies. In my experience, straight allies can be the worst offenders on this count.
Excellent point, pyn. Thank you!
THANK YOU. The comment thread here is deeply frustrating to me. When we talk about a male abuser, we talk about how the individual is an asshole, but also how sexism and misogyny in our culture has an influence on the situation. And if the comments were full of men who tell us #NOTALLMEN, we would know there is a problem. But today it’s about straight women! All the difference! *sarcasm Heterosexuality isn’t based on a system of dominance, amirite.
I am deeply against the cissexism in the letter, btw. But I experienced the same stuff as LW with heterosexual cis women (who *thought* that dicks are yucky for me and so overflooded me with TMI’s. Still not nice, even if I have nothing against penisses)
Sorry for my poor english!
Yes. I tried to say this below, but you said it much better.
Sexual orientation is in no way irrelevant here. I think that the LW can find straight women to be friends with who don’t do a lot of the more gross stuff she’s talking about – e.g., rape culture, showing her pictures of dicks, etc – but I think that because straight people don’t need to fear homophobia, discrimination, harassment, sexual fetishism, excessive interest, moralizing, and even potentially violence for being in their relationships, they’re accustomed to talking about their relationships more and in more detail than queer people, particularly queer people who aren’t in a monogamous relationship with a person of the opposite sex.
Now, I think that the LW can absolutely find straight women who are not like her friends, including straight women who are perfectly happy to hear about the LW’s relationships/crushes (which I suspect may also be part of the problem – there’s no reciprocation). However, I also think that it’s incorrect to say that sexual orientation isn’t an aspect of this, because it absolutely plays a role in what the LW’s friends are doing, especially since I suspect that some of it is fueled by homophobia.
Yesss this, thank you!
I’m a pansexual, genderfluid person who’s female presenting, and I am dating a cis man for the first time. All my relationships before that were with women and a trans man (who most people read as female, and thus assumed we were lesbians). Like, I really couldn’t be as open about my relationships as straight people could be, because it could be /dangerous/ for us in public, and that’s a thing that’s always on your mind. Most queer people don’t talk as openly about our relationships and definitely not our sex lives because it can be dangerous at worst, or at least get you ostracized/dealing with homophobia and other fun shit. Like, this stuff is so engrained in me that even now that I’m dating a cis dude and we’re read as a het couple, I STILL get nervous holding hands in public. And I definitely don’t talk about relationships and stuff with people frequently at all. xD Except my super close friends. But bringing it up to random people? That just seems weird to me, yet so many people do all. the. time. Strangers, even!
So there definitely IS a difference in behavior. Not everyone does it, of course, but it’s definitely something people take for granted and kinda shove in your face a lot more. >_>
Yeah, I noticed that as well, thanks for pointing it out.
If the LW keeps banging the drum of “you should break up with him” she might train her friends (?) out of taking these alleged problems to her (“alleged” as in it’s possible that, as with diet talk in a long-ago letter to the Captain, they think hating on their lovers is just how women make conversation).
The disrespecting of boundaries is inexcusable, however. I wonder if they think these boundaries are unreasonable (which is also inexcusable) because [TW: homophobia/heteronormativity in the most literal sense] they’re talking about *normal* sex and there’s no reason the LW should object to hearing about it. Never mind that it’s not normal for her*, never mind that some straight people don’t want to hear about it either.
*Though of course some lesbians have penises and some straight dudes do not
So, I’m going to chime in with everyone who says you need better friends.
I’m a cis woman happily married to a cis man for fifteen years. I have friends with whom I discuss my relationship, sex, sex details, the whole nine yards. We can get really explicit, the whole nine yards. But I also have friends with whom I will simply elide that entire part of my life. I determine these boundaries with each friend throughout the course of our friendship. It’s not a matter of each friend’s sexual orientation or gender — it’s a matter of their personal preferences (and mine). Listen to the Cap’s advice on setting boundaries — it’s a good skill that will serve you well throughout your entire life.
That said, I’m also an adult in my 40s who is fortunate enough to have had huge control over my life over the past two decades. I remember being a high school kid with social circle limited by geography and school placement. I know it can be very very hard when you’re dealing with legacy friendships left over from elementary school as well as having a small pool to choose from. Maybe these friends are the best you’ve got as you work your way through community college in a small town somewhere, I don’t know. (That’s the story that formed in my head, anyway.) I feel deep sympathy for you because I remember that frustrated feeling of wanting to meet other, better friends but having so little choice.
If that’s the case, I think you might want to think long term. Not just find some QUILTBAG friendly spaces now but maybe start planning to GTFO. If you’re in high school, think about college far away. If you’re in college, think about transferring to a different college, far away. If you’re not in school, maybe start working towards a new job in a city.
The single most reassuring thing in my young life was the knowledge that there was a different world outside the staid walls of my childhood hometown and the people contained therein.
You know, 1 person who has blogged about the gross tendency of “sex positive” culture to constantly be shoving sex in everyone’s faces is Trudy at Gradient Lair, who is an asexual woman. So, maybe check her work out, LW. It sounds relevant to what you’re going through, and I found it very insightful as to why certain kinds of sex positivity don’t seem very positive or liberating to me at all.
I also want to back Pyn up on the “not all straight people” comments. Heteronormativity is a thing and it IS my experience as a straight person that it sometimes is expressed through the normalization and perceived importance / interestingness of talking about hetero sex and relationships in very cliché ways that prop up gender stereotypes. In LW’s friend group there does seem to be a certain amount of normalization of things such as: putting up with a (male) partner who isn’t very interested in you as a (female) person, rape and harassment in fiction being harmless/cute/funny/sexy, and vaginal sex being a painful act which a cis woman must endure because of its “importance” to a relationship.
All of that sounds pretty damn heteronormal to me. Now LW’s friends might not REALIZE they are enforcing those norms and that their gender / sexuality policing may be especially annoying to a lesbian woman, but IT IS, and she is allowed to feel a little wary about making new friendships with straight women, if that is how she feels.
Reblogged this on Beautiful Cocoon.
I am a very open person and I like bonding with my close friends (of all sexualities) about personal things including our sex lives, weird body stuff, etc. I come from a culture where talking about these things isn’t weird or considered oversharing, it’s just sharing, though for us this applies exclusively to female relationships. Example: one of the first intimate conversations I had with my partner’s female relatives was while prepping food together and sharing birth control methods and how various women became pregnant. This was not weird for us but I realize it is weird for many people.
Regardless, this ish the LW is describing is SUPER inappropriate to me. The extreme content, lack of boundaries, and ignoring their audience is bananas. It does make me wonder about the age of this friend group, though by no means is age always an indicator of maturity, it just doesn’t seem as harmful if its a developmental thing (“I just discovered sex – weeee!!!”) rather than an asshole (“I don’t care about other people’s boundaries – weeee!”) thing.
When it comes to talking about sex with friends I find it’s best to assume the most conservative boundary (i.e. no sex talk allowed) until your relationship has deepened to the point where you can talk about whether or not you all want to share this type of information with each other at all and if so, in what capacity. Then set the boundary for BOTH parties according to the most conservative person.
I think Cap has good advice that will be effective! The only extra thing I noticed, was that while LW expressed lots of disgust about heterosexual stuff/men in her letter, I wasn’t clear what was being communicated to the friends. She says they don’t take her advice on relationships (I suspect advice is not being asked for despite the vaguely horroresque stories) and she emphasizes that they know she’s a lesbian and “doesn’t care”. I wonder if maybe she is not communicating to her friends that “don’t care” = “utterly revolted by any reference to heterosexual sex or naked men, full stop and abort plz”. (or whatever particular boundaries she would like to communicate.)
I’m at least partly wondering this because, while some stuff seems clearly over-the-top TMI in a large variety of situations, there’s other stuff brought up that I, as a friend, might not realize counted as Too Heterosexual To Share with a close friend. (Assuming they did not express discomfort.) For example, dick jokes, artwork drawn by friends, and descriptions of anime do not necessarily categorize to me in the same place as explicit descriptions of sexual encounters. So clarity and directness around what’s wanted seem like they could be helpful.
My main recommendation would be for LW to think about exactly what change is wanted and what range of topics she would like to proscribe and communicate that directly and concisely to her friends.
…reading xyz’s comment above clarified my thoughts somewhat. So to reframe my comment above a little: I think the friends are out of line, I think LW probably *is* communicating discomfort and getting ignored, and I think that if we go with LW’s “i love these people though” and try to assume minimum good faith, the problem may be at least somewhat based in heteronormativity and not realizing how -many- times their topics wind up pinging into No Not Okay land, and needing some of this to be more explicitly and broadly spelled out.
I cannot even with your friends, LW. You sound really clear about what your boundaries are. They are being insensitive at best, and earning cartloads of African Violets at worst.
Maybe it is me, but I can count the times I have talked about private sexual topics with my friends on one hand, and these were very, very close friends who brought the topic up with me first. No D talk, no flashing about of d00d n00ds, no endless discussion of shitty BF behavior, DEFINITELY no rapey entertainments FFS, etc., and, as I recall, no one was writhing with discomfort during these discussions. To use a flawed but shorthand descriptor, my friends can be graphed from one end of the Kinsey scale to the other, and the 0s are respectful of the 7s and vice versa. That is why we are friends! We’re not jerks! When we slip up, we apologize for disguising ourselves as jerks and make amends, then burn the jerksuit.
I admit to being a very private person who probably could stand to be less closed-off (I do not need to “lighten up,” mind you, bleah!, but I am very, very slow to trust people and even slower to share anything deeply personal. I did err somewhat when I got my heart broken really (really, really) badly by overloading the few people I trusted to listen with a modicum of compassion and care that I was sad and was struggling with horrible emotional thunderstorms that were totally ruining many otherwise nice days (and these sadmadbad moods were combined with unmedicated and “untherapized” clinical depression, which I do not recommend, as a general rule). This was because I had so few trusted parties to confide in and had A LOT of WOE-FEELS, but these same pals had and have poured sadfeels into my earholes many, many times, and probably will do so again, and I didn’t continue to burden people who ran out of the necessary spoons to even. There was reciprocation, is what I am saying, LW. So that’s my “in the interest of full disclosure” addenda here.
I am also wondering what happens if and when you want to share “my girlfriend is awesome/this lady celebrity is really hot/I really enjoyed [awesomeladysexthing] last night, phwoar/check out this hawt n00d womyn arts” (if any of that is even how you roll, and it certainly doesn’t have to be!), because–and maybe I am wrong–I am thinking they would not be receptive audiences for that, but expect YOU to be endlessly patient with their stuff. That kinda sucks, if true.
It’s not you, LW. I’d be peeved, too.
Am I the only one really disturbed and the casual racism in this thread?
Halfway through the comments I noticed several people had expressed disgust at “Weird shit from Japan” and Japanese sexuality in general, which is so NOT ON.
The LW doesn’t care for some media her friends are into, that happens to be from Japan.
This does not make it OK to dismiss an entire culture and casually bash it like this.
What even the hell.
I expect better from CA commenters.
*And I’m coming from a perspective of, after spending the better part of a decade there, feel I could write an entire book about troubling sexism and attitudes to sex in Japan.
Maybe we’re not looking at the same comments here, but to me it doesn’t seem like the snark is directed at Japanese culture at all (which I agree would be unacceptable), but rather at Americans who fetishize particular aspects of Japanese culture in a very particular way. Like, that American subculture that seems to mostly comprise white nerds wearing t-shirts announcing that they’re “looking for a Japanese girlfriend”? I feel like that’s who’s being dismissed and casually bashed here. Which might not be nice or anything, but I definitely wouldn’t call it racism.
The original letter seemed to be about the boyslove manga stuff that some teenaged girls are so into. That happens to be a genre that was imported from Japan. I got the impression that the objection was not so much that it’s from Japan, but that it’s about sex, and “Japanese” was just used to replace [Stuff with a foreign name I cannot remember]
No, not the LW, at all. But definitely a non-singular number of comments shit on the Japaneseness, specifically.
That’s pretty gross, in a community like this one especially.
There’s definitely a few comments othering Japan, specifically.
And even *if* they only meant this type of white American (which, btw, it is not stated in the letter that LW and friends are, at all)
how is it OK to shit on a fandom, even if that’s “just” what those comments were doing?
There’s a big difference between “I don’t like this show” and “everything associated with the culture of origin of this show is WEIRD and BAD”, and the latter has a strong hint of racism to it.
I think the problem is that dude wearing that tshirt is not part of this thread. There is insufficient info in the original letter to call anyone discussed there a fetishizer. It’s totally fine that the LW is not into anime or dating sims and doesn’t want to hear about them but those things aren’t automatically wrong and people who like them aren’t automatically wrong. It needs to be addressed on a case by case basis, and it’s an off-topic distraction to the LW’s actual issue anyway.
Straight woman here, in my thirties. I was also wondering at the ages of this friend group. I behaved this way with my friends (the sex talk part) when I was in high school and college. My friends and I acted like would-be sex/relationship therapists for one another. When I found new friends after that, it became clear pretty quickly whether they were comfortable talking about their sex lives or not. If they were, great, and we talked about it whenever the subject came up. If not, then I was careful not to bring it up again. This is how friends should behave, in my opinion.
Your friends continuing to talk explicitly about penis-related sex = not cool. The relationship complaints are a bit trickier… I think that friends naturally want to vent about frustrations with their partners, and it can leave you with a lopsided view of the relationship. The best thing to do is to either not engage with their complaints, just sort of be like, “hmmm,” or “I agree, that’s terrible” or ask them questions to get them to think about what they might want to do about their problem. If they shrug, then drop it. As much as we want our friends to find worthy partners, we can’t make their choices for them.
Other people have said this in other comments, but I’m chiming in with my own voice to say: LW, not all friendships are like this. Emotionally abusive and toxic relationships aren’t limited to romance–there are toxic friendships, too.
From your letter, it sounds like you’ve got a few issues in your current group of friends: 1) you don’t share similar interests; 2) they’re using you as their “Venting Friend” when maybe you’d be better suited to being the “Advising Friend”; and 3) there are some respect and boundary issues here. You may very well love these women dearly; that doesn’t mean that they are good for you, and that’s a hard and awful lesson to learn about our “friends”.
So, echoing the Captain: Flatly state your desire to not hear about this subject–“I’m really not interested in discussing this today.”–and your boundary– “Can we change the subject, please? Otherwise I need to get going.” (This requires you to be in charge of your own transportation. While this process is ongoing, don’t accept rides with friends you may end up leaving when they won’t change the subject, and don’t provide rides to any friends either.) You can say one on one to each member of the group, “When you talk about XYZ in front of me, it makes me feel a certain kind of way. Can we please take a break from discussing XYZ when I’m around? It’s really damaging my relationship with you when I have to keep myself braced against these discussions.”
When they’re venting about their male partners or lack thereof, tell them upfront: “You know my feelings about unsatisfying relationships and unsatisfying or painful sex. You know how I feel about this issue; I’ve said my piece. If you want my help acting on that advice, I’m here for you; otherwise, I need you to change the subject or I’ll have to catch up with you later. I can’t be the friend you vent to about this topic.” When they actively disrespect you by showing you nude drawings, making dick jokes, or involving you in male-centric discussions, you can say “I’m not the right audience for this. I’ll leave you to it.” and then leave.
I do have friends with whom I have a CAREFULLY NEGOTIATED lack of boundaries around sex talk–I don’t mind hearing about details of their sex lives and escapades, but these were boundaries that we talked about and discussed and consented to before they started involving me as a verbal audience to their sex lives. What your group is doing is not that, and if communicating your boundaries and enforcing same doesn’t work out the way you want it to, it may be time to grow apart from these girls.
(Credentials: Queer lady on the ace spectrum in her late 20s; friends who are bi, pan, poly, and/or het females or homosexual males; dumped her formerly-best-friend 3 years ago for not respecting her boundaries)
LW here, just writing in to clear a few things up that I wasn’t able to address in the short word count in my original letter. And to reply to the oodles of wonderful, supportive comments I got, I haven’t read the whole thread because I have work to do and I wanted to reply beforehand but I did read a lot of it.
First off: The age range of me and this group are college age so around 19~21. They are definitely immature/figuring things out but, the whole reason why I’m friends with them is because they were pretty much my first group of friends ever in highschool and we ended up going to the same community college because we’re all poor and I guess I’ve mostly put up with them because of the nostalgia of ‘they were the first people who cared about me!’ and ‘we had so many good times!’ (I may be looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses though).I’m sure you can see that that would intensify the whole feeling of ‘If I friend-breakup with them I will never have a friend group again, EVER’ that I was experiencing when I first wrote this letter.
About the whole ‘all straight women are awful and gross’ thing, I am so touched and relieved that so many straight women came out and said that this is NOT normal for straight woman to do and that I should absolutely NOT put up with it and that there are plenty of respectful and caring straight woman out there that wouldn’t go out of their way to make me feel uncomfortable. It really means a lot, I actually got teary-eyed seeing that many of you were also appalled they were acting this way, and seeing your kind words. You must understand that when I wrote this letter that I’m so glad was answered, it was written out of so much frustration and sadness, me feeling like I would never fit in with the majority of woman. I’ve been enlightened by some comments about how they may be purposefully doing this because they’re homophobic/because I’m a Lesbian. Considering that whenever this happens I get this gross twisting feeling in my gut and the vision of a neon red sign flashing ‘YOU DON’T BELONG’ it doesn’t seem like they’re just innocently forgetting that I would like to talk about something other than dudes. I just recently had a small pool party to celebrate the beginning of summer and the only straight woman I invited were the two that seemed to talk about the D the least…. and guess what?? LOUDLY, at a public pool with CHILDREN present, at a party of mostly Lesbians who-are-squicked-by-dick they started talking about what they do with their boyfriends when their parents go on vacation and leave the houses to them. I was horrified and just, felt so hopeless about ever being able to be friends with straight woman without this happening. So, that was the mindset I was in when I wrote this.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the people that said that my friend who talks about her sexual/relationship problems in great detail to me might be seeking validation and that asking why she doesn’t break up with him is probably a bad idea. I am her only female friend so I’m probably her only outlet, I will try the “Wow that sounds really awful but, also like something that’s between you and Partner, so I’m not really equipped to handle that.”
CA, thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter it has given me so much hope and helped sooooooo much.
Hi LW! I’m so glad the comments helped you, as well as CA’s answer.
That incident by the pool sounds like classic sublimated homophobia. Speaking as a straight woman, what I’ve seen is that a lot of straight people go through a phase where they grew up homophobic, they want to change, intellectually they’re at least part way there, but they haven’t processed things on an emotional level yet. During that phase, they find the idea of being flirted with by a gay person really scary. A likely scenario is that these women were mostly okay around just you, because you know they’re straight. But at a pool around a bigger crowd including multiple gay women who they didn’t know as well, they freaked out over the hypothetical scary scenario of a woman hitting on them, so they tried to head it off with loud and inappropriate sex talk.
I’m sorry you’re going through this, but so glad to hear you’re feeling encouraged. Thanks for sharing your update 🙂
Yep – that’s what this sounds like to me as well.
I’m really glad the responses helped. I’m sure this has been mentioned a few times upthread, but I wanted to make sure it was named explicitly: what your friends are doing is sexual harassment. That’s what it is. It’s not normal, it’s not acceptable. Putting someone in a sexual situation without their consent, against their will, is sexual harassment. Might seem a bit harsh to label it like that, but I wish someone had said it to me when I was dealing with similar. I was in the exact same boat– they were my first friends, I was insecure, I was convinced that dealing with the weird sexual comments was just the Price of Friendship, that nothing was wrong, that’s Just How It Works. I would like to give you and my past self some major jedi hugs, is what I’m saying.
If you really want to save these friendships, introducing them to some Consent 101 is the first step. But… I want you to know you don’t have to try to save this. This is not how friendship is supposed to work. Your friends are supposed to want you to feel comfortable around them. Friendships are supposed to involve trust and support. And it’s scary to try to step out of an old friendship, where you built good memories and important parts of yourself along the way. Take it slow, be very kind to yourself. You will find better. Sexual harassment is not the toll you pay for having friends. I am so sorry that they’ve gotten you so used to it that it feels like that’s all there is. It’s an awful feeling, but I promise, it’s not true. There are people who would never dream of treating you like this, who would be mortified if they made one of their friends feel sick and uncomfortable. There are people who will give a shit about how you feel. You deserve to have your boundaries and feelings cared about. (That is bare effing minimum!)
Like I said, I’m really glad reaching out has helped you with this. It’s a really difficult situation, and it’s hard to know how to feel. You are doing the right things by trying to state your boundaries, and your instincts on how weird this is are spot on. You will find better. Friends you can relax around, who listen to you, who respect you. I hope you find them soon. Jedi hugs.
LW, please stop being casually transmisogynistic!
KV, can you (or someone?) please explain how the LW is being transmisogynistic? I, personally, have learned so much from CA and Tumblr about sexism and ableism and racism, but I still struggle with recognizing transphobia and transmisogyny, even when someone calls it out. I would like to learn so that I can do better. Thanks in advance. 🙂
The assumption is that lesbians aren’t interested in penises, and therefore women with penises don’t exist or aren’t real women or aren’t attractive to lesbians (or even that trans women with penises are gross). Those things aren’t true. There are women with penises, there are lesbians with penises, there are lesbians who are attracted to trans women with or without penises, and that’s without getting into nonbinary orientations, gender identities, and physiological bodies.
Thank you! I think I understand it now.
Your friends at the public pool near children talking about The D…NO BUENO, LW. NO BUENO. I am sorry they disrespected you as host enough to do that. Yucky.
Also, this face: D:
Wow. Are people like this? I can only imagine these folks being teenagers sneakily having sex and wanting to “kiss and tell” about their secret furtive goings-on.
I totally believe the LW, I just…wow. I did not see that world growing up or now. My initial advice would be “get better friends,” but maybe try spending more one on one time with them so you can both hash out what kinds of stuff you like talking about with them and also so that they won’t end up in a cycle of storytelling about their boyfriends’ nether bits? I don’t even know where to start here. Huh.
Though I think “don’t be friends with straight women” is a bit of an overkill piece of advice. There are plenty of straight women of all ages that don’t spend their entire lives talking about men and their bits. Maybe meet people through a hobby club? Then you can talk about the hobby instead of about dicks. I guess?
Hi, LW. This is a really crappy situation, and I’m sorry you’re going through it. Just based on how old your friends sound like they might be–mid-twenties?–I’m guessing that you are about that age as well. I’m forty now, so I’m going to give you some advice from my years. Your letter has framed the problem as a problem that a lesbian is having with straight women, and of course that context carries its own particular blend of privilege and oppression. I’ll leave that part of the equation to more knowledgeable minds. If you zoom out from your particular situation, however, I think you’ll see that a lot of the problem is classic insensitivity and boundary-pushing bordering on bullying. When I was younger, this sort of thing was a problem for me, but now that I’m older, I defend my boundaries like a bull mastiff. The result is that my life is about 95% asshole-free. It sounds like you might benefit from letting your inner bulldog off its leash.
Here’s some of my experience: I am intolerant of descriptions or depictions of people getting hurt. I get faint at the sight of blood, and I have no time for violence in entertainment or exploitation media like the local news. When people start talking about that kind of thing around me, they get two polite requests to stop, and then I flip my lid:
Them: So I was watching “Law & Order: SVU” last night, and this guy–
Me: Stop. I hate those shows. I can’t take the violence, and I really don’t want to hear about it.
Them: Okay, but lemme just tell you, this guy would–
Me: Seriously, I really don’t like that kind of thing. Please stop.
Them: No, but he would–
Me: I said stop! I don’t want to hear about this! I’m done!
Then I walk away if I can. Once, I was in the car with my BFF wouldn’t stop (she is usually excellent about this kind of thing but she happened to be pretty drunk at the time), so I turned the car radio all the way up, because no.
Couple things about this: first, it took me a long time to learn how to do this. This approach requires a bit of bravery and a commitment to authenticity. It requires that you prioritize your own comfort and safety over your friends’ feelings. Second, I’ve done this to a lot of people, not only about violence, but also about racism, sexism, and general assholery. In my experience, the people who react with hostility or accuse me of “oversensitivity” are the ones I would rather not have in my life. Good people apologize. Good people might tease a little, but they don’t push it. Good people remember. Good people treat others–including their friends–with respect.
Me: Seen any good movies lately?
Them: I saw a great horror movie last night, but I know you don’t want to hear about it because you’re a delicate flower!
Me: You’re right! I am a delicate flower!
Them: So how about you? Have you seen anything good?
Me: Seen any good movies lately?
Them: Yeah, I saw one last night, but you wouldn’t like it because [graphically describes graphic violence].
Me: Ugh, what the fuck is the matter with you? You know I don’t want to hear about that kind of thing!
Them: What?! It’s just a movie! Why do you have to take everything so seriously?
Me: You know what? Fuck your movies and fuck you.
The good person teased a little and dropped it. The bad person violated my boundaries and got told off. If these people really are your friends, you can be real with them and they will still be your friends. If you get real with them and they are not still your friends, they were never your friends in the first place? Why would you want to be friends with people who are not your friends? I’ve been friends with people who weren’t my friends–they didn’t like me, they didn’t respect me, etc.,–and it just fucking sucks. If they’re your friends, you can be real. Be real. Be brave. These people might not be your real friends. If they’re not, stop wasting your time and go find your friends.
Okay. I think that there are a lot of issues that you touch on in this letter, and some of them aren’t necessarily related to the difference in sexual orientation (though some are).
A lot of commenters are saying that queer people can overshare, too, and that there’s really not a difference. I agree with the overarching idea – people in every group overshare – but I do understand why people oversharing about men might make you a little more squeamish. I actually get uncomfortable based the gender of the speaker, not the partner, but still, I do get where you’re coming from.
Unfortunately, I think that your friends are either super clueless or trying to make you feel uncomfortable. This might be a dumb question, but have you explicitly told them that their talking to you about their sex lives or men in a sexual context in general (including the sketches and dick jokes) is making you feel really uncomfortable? If you haven’t, maybe start there – it shouldn’t have to be said, but maybe if you do, that will help. If you have and they haven’t stopped, that’s its own problem and not one I’m sure can be solved, as much as you love them.
These friends aside, though, I do think that you might be conflating some issues that aren’t really related to each other. It’s completely reasonable to not want to talk about your friends’ sex lives/men in a sexual way. IMO, though, it’s considerably less reasonable to expect your friends not to talk about their relationships at all, because for many people, that’s a significant part of their lives. If that’s genuinely your benchmark, I do think you’ll find it hard to be friends with straight women – and, potentially, bisexual women as well.
But is that really the issue? Imagine a situation where a female friend was constantly talking about her girlfriend in this way. Would it really be okay just because the partner she was complaining about was female? I don’t know you, OP, but I suspect the answer to that question is no – the sexual content and the fact that they’re talking about men just makes this a bit worse.
And if that’s the case… I think that there may be a larger life lesson to be learned here, and that’s how to approach friends who are in what you feel are bad relationships that they don’t want to get out of. This will be a problem that you will bump into occasionally, because it’s not specific to any one sexual orientation. We all deal with this differently and have different tolerances for it, and you’ll have to find out where you are on the issue in general.
Now, on the subject of straight women in general: unless the lesbians you’ve talked to online classify a woman mentioning anything about her boyfriend or finding a man attractive ever at all, as “disturbing heterosexual shenanigans” – which I think is a pretty screwed up benchmark – they’re really not painting an accurate picture of straight/bisexual women. Women who like men are not universally so overwhelmed with love for dicks that they obsess about it.
I mean, are you ultimately going to find a lot of straight women who never talk about their relationships/crushes, ever? Likely not. However, I think that you can find straight women who find rape culture abhorrent and respect your sexual boundaries (which is really what this comes down to) – and I don’t think they’re anywhere near as rare as your friends online seem to think. The vast majority of straight women I know fit that category.
(Sorry – this turned out to be a novel. :P)
And I totally didn’t see you’d responded above until I posted this. 😦 Sorry! I hope some of it is relevant anyway.
these are great points.
The other thing that I’ve been reminded about in this discussion is how often I’ve felt uncomfortable in groups of women discussing things that I had no interest in, but in their case it was makeup and clothes and television. So I suspect it’s more of a larger case of Needing to Find Your People who talk about things you’re interested in, rather than necessarily orientation-based.
I want to double, triple, quadtruple (or howevermany we are up to) support for the Captain’s last point. You dont have a “straight women go on about cock all the time” problem, you have a “people I surround myself with dont respect my boundaries regarding TMI” problem.
It really does depend. Quick example. Im bi, in case that makes any odds. I have two good friends. One is a bi male. I know everything about him including info that probably was TMI in retrospect – we are both very open sharing people, but some mental images cant be undone. Nonetheless, we can and do talk about pretty much everything, including sexual preferences etc. My other good friend and I have never had that discussion, to the point that I dont even know what her sexual orientation is or if she even has one. Truly. So it varies between people, and within groups, as to who is comfortable with what, and which topics arise. And we all get to set / reset this as necessary, because we are friends and respect each other. End of.
If your friends wont respect your boundaries, OP, then Im sorry to hear that. But it probably helps to be able to frame the issue for what it is. After all, looking at my gay male friends, some of them publicly drop trousers and talk about their bollock or cock size, while others would be utterly mortified to know someone, anyone, who did that kind of thing. It’s not a straight woman issue. It’s a people issue.
That said, good luck enforcing your boundaries and finding a solution.
The only thing I would add to the Captain’s excellent advice about How to Find Decent People to Be Around, and How to Live Your Boundaries, is:
Leave the conversation. Take the burrito.
Nothing drives your point home more strongly than that to-go container. And you still have a burrito.
To me this is either:
A) You are the only lesbian they know and they are having some existential weirdness. Your existence is throwing a wrench in how they mentally order the world and they are either punishing you for it or just bleeding subconscious discomfort at you. Maybe some are questioning their own sexuality and trying to prove to the group and themselves how much they looove the peen. Who knows? Not your problem, and not healthy for you to be around. (I’m leaning towards this one)
B) They just love talking about this stuff 24/7, they are all happy doing it, and they don’t want to stop. If they care about you and are decent people, you might be able to get them to stop by setting stronger boundaries. However, they could resent the changes and blame you. Better to just leave them to it IMO. Keep your interactions to specific outings like movies, and when they linger afterwards to talk, go home. They could grow out of it in a few years and you will still have bridges intact if you gently scale back your involvement now.
I’ll be honest, I would be annoyed if an individual wanted my circle to cut out the sex talk but still include him/her in all the gatherings. No problem cutting the sex talk around them, but they would need to be okay with not being invited to everything. My friends just talk about sex a lot – we bond, have great laughs, and I wouldn’t want that to stop. The dynamic is admittedly different since my circle is older and also mixed in terms of gender and orientation. I also don’t want you to be surprised if you’re hanging out with a group of lesbians and some form of dick talk still happens. It’s not a universal trait of every lesbian to be grossed out by dude parts, same goes for any orientation. I’m almost impossible to “squick” with genitals, bodies, or consensual sex. Even though my actual preference in partner is pretty narrow, I have no problem hearing about or watching sex acts of just about any combination. I know many people who are the same way (including lesbians). I think you need to own that this is your preference, your feelings, your boundary, not just a lesbian thing.
*Tangent below, feel free to ignore!*
I have a side question related to being forced to listen to/look at disturbing things: how do I get people (dudes) to stop watching or graphically discussing Game of Thrones when I’m pretty much trapped in their space (mostly waiting for a meal, or a ride, or I just drove a long way to get there)? It keeps happening. I go to a friend’s house for dinner/games/whatever on Sunday, and surprise! Dad/brother/roommate/boyfriend INSISTS on watching the new GoT. In the common area. On the biggest, loudest TV in the house. Even though they could stream it at any time – such as when I leave. Last time I went into the spare bedroom and anxiously watched Youtube videos at full volume in the hopes of blocking any rape & murder sounds. Heeelp!
I wrote about just this thing a few comments above. For me, I make two polite requests, then I flip out. See above, and godspeed. 🙂
I also have the Game of Thrones problem. People who wouldn’t dream of making me watch snuff porn will quite happily and casually describe that way that guy got graphically dismembered in loving detail, and try to persuade me to watch it. My husband got the point after I shouted at him to turn the volume down on the Red Wedding reaction videos (show this horrifying spectacle to your friends! film their reaction! upload it to the Internet for the entertainment of others!). Somehow, because it’s on prime time, it’s gone from ‘torture porn’ to ‘acceptable television which is a safe topic for conversation’ and ‘something I should pressure my friends to watch’. Boundaries, folks.
As someone who LIKES GoT…wow, that’s awful. It’s got all sorts of rape and gore and horror! It should not be shown like that to people who are not actively consenting to see it! Jesus.
I think the only thing I could say there would be “I know you like GoT, but I don’t just vaguely dislike it–it’s really horrible for me, to the point where putting it on on the loudest TV when I’m there makes me unable to actually participate in the social fun, and makes me feel unsafe in my own house. Please just assume that it’s best to put it on when I’m not there, or at someone else’s place, or at special Game-of-Thrones-watching-parties.”
Or, if people are trying to discuss it, “Wow, can we not talk about torture porn?” (Because that’s essentially what a fairly big chunk of the show is. Like, I appreciate it for many reasons and find most of the horror cathartic, but that *is* what it is.)
LW, I feel you. There is definitely this whole thing where straight women flirt with and overshare with their not-straight female friends as a way of really weird homophobia–like, definitely, the oversharing can happy between any genders and people of sexual orientations etc, but there really IS this specific phenomenon where straight women feel threatened by the existence of queer women, especially lesbians.
They frequently, IME, then overshare about how great/obligatory/natural/etc it is to be a straight woman in a weird, sometimes subconscious attempt to either head off you noticing their homophobia or to get you ‘used to’ (or convert to) being straight. It’s the same that cis people frequently get WAAAAYY too personal and oversharing when they see a trans person, because they feel the sudden need to ‘justify’ why they’re the gender that they are. (Memo: please stop doing that! Nobody cares! You are not the ones who have to run the gauntlet, for the most part!)
It’s very weird to be caught up in, because generally even straight people (see upthread) refuse to acknowledge that it happens and it’s homophobic. It’s not talked about as often as it could be, partially because people refuse to take sexual harassment (which this is, btw) seriously, and partially because homophobia is not actually considered bad in most of American societies. Plus, many straight people (see upthread) just see it as immaturity/friends problem, when really it CAN be compounded by that, but is really a homophobia problem. It is not just college women who do stuff like this–my mom’s 45+ friend blurted out, upon my gayness being mentioned, that at first she didn’t think men were attractive, but after her first kid they were. (It was hideously awkward).
Ugh. You know, there is a theory (which I grossly simplify, look up “Loving to Survive” by someone called Graham (can’t remember the first name) for the original) that many women suffer from societal Stockholm Syndrome and that’s what causes them to fall in love with men, not actual attraction. At first I thought that theory a bit extreme, but with what you and other lesbians tell about het women who don’t like sex with men / consider men unattractive, but “got used” to it, the theory begins to sound more and more plausible. I mean, I have to wonder how that 45+ friend got her kid from when she didn’t consider men attractive … the implications of that are troubling.
Maybe I’m overinterpreting it and they just try to “trick” lesbians into trying to “get used” to men, but one has to wonder how many of those women aren’t actually heterosexual, but desperately pretend they are.
Not that their plight, if the theory is correct, is any excuse for harassing lesbians.
Not sure, but I think that not being atracted to one men, doesn’t mean they aren’t atracted to men in general. I mean, someone who “put up” with sex with someone who’s not attracted to because she think she should could be attracted to other men (she could be attracted to woman too or only to women). But the point is that the conditioning to have sex that you don’t want necesarily mean that they are in the closet. They could be just unhappy. Or rather, think that other things made up for the not attraction.
I’m not actually a lesbian (trans and nonbinary) but am perceived as one. And yeah, it’s pretty horrifying to hear about this stuff–it’s like some straight women think that being with men is like doing the dishes (unpleasant but you can’t just not do it) and lesbians are using all disposable dishes and thus CHEATING THE SYSTEM or something.
I apologize if someone upthread already mentioned this, but:
“…and dick in general, to me, a Lesbian.”
Since trans women exist, I’m not sure why “dick”/penis and being a lesbian are being presented as things that oppose each other.
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