On refusing to be manipulated

Dear Coquette, 

First off, I love your blog, you’ve saved me from myself more times than you’ll know. The only thing is, I have a problem that I don’t know how to solve, and can’t ask anyone but you about it.

I’ve been going out with this guy for three months, and he’s pretty spectacular. He’s been really cool about all my personal issues (last boyfriend was an abusive jerk, and it made me really uncomfortable around guys), but we’ve started talking about having sex lately, and although I want to, he doesn’t want to use a condom. Apparently sex is horrible with them.

Now, this was a problem I had with my last boyfriend, and I only did it without condoms because he forced me. That resulted in me taking the morning after pill, but my current boyfriend doesn’t know it, and I don’t want him to.

Is there any way to tell him I don’t want to have unprotected sex with him without writing off sex completely? He’s been really good to me, and I don’t want to ruin everything.

You’re breaking my heart, kiddo. I’m sorry to have to be so blunt with you, but what I’m about to say is what you need to hear.

The guy you’re with isn’t at all spectacular. He just seems spectacular because he hasn’t revealed himself to be as big an asshole as your abusive ex-boyfriend. I know you can’t see it yet, but he has a lot more in common with your ex than you realize.

I’m not saying he’s going to become abusive. Most likely he won’t, but he is going to become more and more emotionally manipulative as you fall deeper into the relationship.

Right now, you’re still in a courtship phase. You haven’t had sex yet, and he’s still pursuing you. This is as romantic as he’s ever going to get, and yet he’s already trying to manipulate you into not using condoms.

That’s a huge red flag. Even you see it. Hell, it’s why you wrote in to me, because you knew damn well that I’d hit you over the head with it. Obviously, you have to tell him that sex with you will be condom-only. Stand up for yourself. No unsafe sex. No exceptions.

That’s the easy advice. The hard part will be for you to start recognizing emotional manipulation and immediately shutting it down. To do that, you have to value yourself. You have to put your own health and happiness first.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking, “He’s been really good to me, and I don’t want to ruin everything,” take a deep breath and instead tell yourself, “My happiness and emotional well-being are more important than my relationship.”

Go ahead, say it out loud. 


One thought on “On refusing to be manipulated

  1. Esther says:

    For no reason at all, I stopped reading your advice some years ago. So I did not read this piece, and now I have a son that made me realize I need to value my time and myself. I realized a lot more by going through exactly what the questioner did, and I am grateful to be all the wiser for it now, but I can’t help but wonder where I might be if I hadn’t ignorantly stopped visiting your site. But you don’t learn until you feel it.
    Thank you for this. I still sometimes don’t really know if what people ask of me is within my boundaries. And thank you for everything you have ever written. You were my first mentor, or something like that.

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