This will probably needs some context. First, I’m polyamorous; I’m married, have a long-term girlfriend, and still occasionally go out with new people. Everyone knows and consents, it’s all ethically done, and it’s going great.
The second important part is that I was raised in the evangelical tradition of purity culture; more specifically the relatively egalitarian I Kissed Dating Goodbye tradition, where both men and women are pressured to avoid any proximity to anything even vaguely sexual. Obviously I don’t cling to that still — I’m a progressive feminist who’s dealing with more anger at my faith and upbringing than fondness at the moment — but I clung to it long enough that my first sexual encounter was on my wedding night, in my mid-20s. Polyamory was something my wife and I transitioned into after a few years of marriage and a looooot of research and soul-searching.
But I think some part of me still assumes that sexual advances are unwanted unless it’s been made explicitly clear to the contrary, which means I never make the first move and lots of connections just never go there. I know that women enjoy sex too, and it’s possible to express my sexual interest without being creepy about it, but I don’t feel confident I know how, and my anxiety about accidentally coming across wrong keeps me from making any advances.
I’d love to hear your perspective.
A Purity Culture Survivor