December 5, 2006

Dear SML - Cuddling Nausea

Dear SML,

I am attracted to characters in TV shows and movies. This isn't unusual in and of itself - the problem is that I'm not attracted to real people. I don't tend to put people on pedestals - I love them hairy moles, buck teeth, and all - but once I get to know a man I lose any attraction there might have been. It's not that I like him less - a lot of times I like him more once I get to know him. So what's the deal? Why does the thought of cuddling up with someone I know make me want to vomit? And how do I fix it?

-Suspended in the Second Dimension

Dear Suspended,

It is natural to become attracted to characters on TV and in movies. They are represented as ideal people with great looks, ideal living situations, they always seem to say just the right things, and they often appear to have no faults, quirks, or irritating qualities that can be so important when it comes to real life situations. This can be heady stuff to our fantasies.

I’m wondering if you’ve simply been rushed into the “cuddling up” stages of potential relationships in the past. It may be that you’re someone who needs to know someone better and longer before you will allow yourself to get intimate physically and emotionally. It’s possible that a man in your past has tried to rush the physical side, as is often the case, considering that most men have sex on their minds a lot from pre-pubescence on. The drive for sex can motivate men to behave much differently than most women, and seeing this may turn you off initially.

On the flip side, if you’ve found that you have no problem at all being physically intimate with people you barely know, but not with those you do know, then I’d venture a guess that you have issues with underlying fears holding you back. The fears that come to mind first are:
•fear of rejection
•fear of getting too close so you may get hurt if something goes wrong
•fear of letting someone real see your body that you may find imperfect
•fear of choosing the wrong Mr. Right, as if there can be only one perfect man for you
•fear that you will be sinning if you get physical with someone

If it’s fear holding you back from becoming physically close to someone you really like, I’d suggest counseling. This can do wonders for discovering what makes you tick, and for eliminating fear. Sometimes it is easier to see what we need to see through a therapist vs. seeing it in ourselves.

Many people grow up in religions that repress sexuality as sinful and wrong. This can cause a young woman (or man) to miss out on many or all of the normal steps youth take to discover their own budding sexuality and become comfortable and confident with it. Sometimes this causes fear of the unknown, especially if you have not been intimate yet. It can also cause fear of disappointing a lover, and fear of communicating what your desires are with your partner, because you were unable to practice anything remotely sexual or intimate without risking committing an unforgivable sin.

To fix this, I suggest practice. Practice touch and intimate speech with the one you are attracted to, starting with flirting. If you find your subconscious trying to convince you that it’s wrong, work on an inner dialogue where you can rationally tell yourself that you like this person, and you want to get to know them better, and that you deserve it. It is not wrong to have such feelings and desires. Breathe deeply to avoid undue nausea if you feel it coming on. Taking Dramamine before a date may also help if you truly come close to vomiting in instances like this.

If it helps you during intimacy to fantasize that the person you are with is one of the characters on TV, then do so in your own mind, and try hard to avoid saying the wrong name at the wrong time.

(Send your own DEAR SML request to


Sideon said...

Excellent advice! Well written, logical and informative! I'd never have thought of taking a motion-sickness pill!

I'm trying to think of a time when a significant other may have made me nauseous. It would have to be the times after they (it happened more than once) admitted to infidelity but still somehow thought that I'd be okay with being intimate again with them. I'm a selfish, delusional, freak magnet, what can I say...

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Dramamine for nausea brought on by thoughts of intimacy... Hm. Who knew?

Excellent writing, as always. And good advice, too.

I wish the church would do a better of job of helping young men and women understand that our bodies and the feelings associated with them are okay. It's such a disjunction to go from feeling like you're carnal and nasty and sinful to suddenly being intimate and sexual and fulfilling some higher covenant. Too contradictory.

Pete Dunn said...

Dear Suspended,

I promise to remain totally aloof. I promise you will never really get to know the real me. I will keep my feelings, thoughts, fears and desires a secret. Does this mean we can have sex now?

Anonymous said...

I've only felt that way about one other guy...I loved being with him, but when he kissed me it felt like I was a backwoods Kentucky hick making out with my brother!! YUCK! Maybe she is just attracked to safe guys who pose no sexual threat?!?

My Marrakech said...

You are so funny! Ack, I think you will find up being part-time artist and part-time psycho-therapist.
PS Do delete that spam comment here. Those spammers are scourge!