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RELATIONSHIPS & SEXUALITY
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A Mutual Misunderstanding About Sex
Making the case for clarity in communication!



Dear Jim:  I just had an unhappy experience. I’m 67 and have been divorced for fifteen years. Through an online dating site I met a man from upstate New York who seemed to match up with me perfectly (we’re both retired educators, we have similar religious and political beliefs, etc.). After communicating online and by phone for several weeks, we agreed that he would come down here to Arizona for a long weekend. His airfare was expensive so I said he could cut down on his costs by staying with me. I admit I didn’t discuss the sleeping arrangements, but we never talked once about sex and I would never think of sleeping with someone I barely know. When he arrived and I showed him to the guest suite, he seemed shocked. He couldn’t believe that I would invite him to come all that way and not be willing to let him share my bed. Fortunately, he wasn’t pushy about it, but he wound up leaving a day early and hasn’t communicated with me since. Would most reasonable men expect sex in that situation? (“Confused”)

Dear “Confused”:  When it comes to sex, men---and women, too---are rarely “reasonable.” Both men and women make false assumptions about the other person’s intentions, and both men and women expect the other person to be a mind reader.

You both contributed to the misunderstanding. When offering your home as a place to stay, you should have told the man explicitly that he’d be staying in your guest suite. That way, he could have made an informed decision: either forget about the visit, or come with the understanding that he’d be sleeping alone.

The man also helped create the misunderstanding by assuming too much and not asking enough. I suppose some women may be open to sleeping with a man they barely know, but most women---particularly mature women---are going to be cautious before they jump into bed with someone. The man from New York assumed that your offer of lodging equaled an offer of sex, but his assumption was based largely on hope. If sleeping in separate bedrooms was a deal-breaker for him, he should have discussed the issue with you before he purchased his plane ticket. Discussions like that can be awkward, but, as you found out, it’s better to get the awkwardness out of the way earlier rather than later.

You’re fortunate that the man was not, as you put it, pushy. In the future, you should avoid inviting men to your home---even just for dinner or drinks---until you’ve met them in person. No matter how nice a person may seem in his e-mails or phone calls, you can’t get a true read on someone until you’ve spent time with him. That doesn’t necessarily rule out trying to meet another man from far away over the Internet, but I’m sure you could recommend a reasonably-priced hotel he could stay at while you get to know each other better.

The good thing, “Confused,” is that whatever mistakes you made can be easily avoided in the future. Good luck, and please let me know how it goes next time.

 
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