When I was first diagnosed with vaginismus I was in a relationship with a loving cis-gendered male partner.
He was supportive and helped me work through a lot.
We were together for two years and got very creative in the bedroom!
When that relationship ended, (due to distance) I feared I would never find anyone willing to accept me because of my perceived shortcoming. New sexual partners became a major source of anxiety…
So I chose to avoid it altogether.
When I began to explore my queer identity I learned that queer sex felt safe for me.
In my experience, queer people have been more open-minded and willing to accommodate, experiment, and communicate needs and desires during sex.
Sex with cis-gendered men was still something that I was interested in but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen!
To divulge or not to divulge, that is the question.
This question has plagued me every time I have been with a new partner.
I have experimented with many different ways of explaining my experience of vaginismus and the ways I like to have sex. Despite our best attempts though, everyone creates expectations in their head.
When I’m with a new partner, specifically a cis-gendered male…
The expectation of penetrative sex is palpable.
Becoming involved with a new partner feels like I’m playing on a slot machine…
Will we align on our conceptualization of sex? Will the gamble I’m taking with my vulnerability pay off and lead to a steamy encounter? Or will I be let down, embarrassed, and a quarter short?
I have experienced all of the above. (Check out my classification of common male responses in the next blog of this series!).
I tend to be very open and honest, which has made being vague with a new partner feel uncomfortable.
Remember – you do not owe anyone an explanation.
Just like if I wasn’t in the mood to have sex, no further explanation is required, I’m just not in the mood. Not having penetrative sex falls under the same jurisdiction.
Typically when I use the non-disclosure tactic my partner is confused.
That’s not necessarily my responsibility, but it can feel uncomfy for both of us.
However, the vague approach can be effective when I know an encounter is a one-time thing; I might choose not to divulge any information about my vagina’s capabilities. Otherwise, I tend to go the oversharer route. And that can also be overwhelming for both of us.
In the previous blog in this series, I wrote about the time I showed a tinder hookup my entire arsenal of sex toys and dilators.
Although the conversation sucked, I learned a valuable lesson.
Know your audience.
This was a person who was already judgmental and disappointed in my sexual ability; probably not the best choice to go into complete vulnerable mode.
Recently I’ve been meeting somewhere in the middle of the completely vague “I don’t do that” and the full-blown seminar on vaginismus.
The happy meeting place I have found sounds something like this: I experience vaginismus, you can look it up if you are curious, but in short, penetrative sex is not something I am physically able to do at the moment. Fingers are ok as long as we communicate throughout. Any questions, comments, or concerns? Please fasten your seat belt and keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, and only in my pussy when I give the go-ahead.
The short answer is that there is no right answer.
Share what you are comfortable with.
Know your audience, know your circumstances/relationship, and know yourself!
You don’t owe anyone an answer but if you want to share, then raise your voice! Challenging people and yourself is an important part of sex that leads to growth.
You can still have casual sex and enjoy it. I won’t let a little vaginismus stop me from finding connection and pleasure!
Most importantly, be compassionate with yourself, whatever you are comfortable with is more than ok.
I consider vaginismus to be both a blessing and a curse, while it has barred me from participating in normative sex, it has opened doors that might have otherwise been closed to me.
It has required me to be a better communicator and allowed me to teach my partners this as well.
It has forced me to have a very open honest conversation around sex sometime before I am even engaging in sexual acts with that person. This unique experience ends up allowing us both to engage in more open, communicative, and pleasurable sex.
Oh! I almost forgot, to answer the original question… to divulge or not to divulge?
Only you can decide the answer for yourself in the moment – and whichever you choose, it was the right one.
You know what’s best for you!
– Cayley G.
P.S. Check out the next post in this series, “The Common Responses, The Apathetic, The Deserter, And The Mind Opener” to read about the common responses to vaginismus I have received from partners.
P.P.S. If you’d like to get in touch, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.