The Sex-to-Emotional Labor Exchange Rate Sucks

Photo by Charles on Unsplash

I can see why he’d feel like I didn’t want to talk to him as much, but I hadn’t realized I was doing it until he brought it up. It was eye opening for me.

I had become less emotionally available than I had made myself to him in the past — partly due to needing space around the new boundaries and partly because I’ve been really emotionally overwhelmed lately and naturally took distance in several friendships.

Investigating my feelings further, I realized that I’d been doing a ton of emotional labor with him when we were having sex.

I was talking through all kinds of issues with him, checking in on his progress in therapy, essentially life coaching him. But it wasn’t reciprocated emotional energy, which is part of why I decided to make things strictly platonic.

Reciprocating emotional labor

The need for reciprocal emotional labor applies to all relationships, platonic, romantic, sexual, familial, or otherwise.

If I’m putting energy into your emotional needs, I expect you to have energy for mine too (provided it’s an okay time to lean on you for that — consent is still key with emotional intimacy).

Sex is not a fair trade for emotional labor.

It’s great. Big fan of sex. But it does not give me back what I gave to you from my spirit, my energy, my mind. Give me reciprocated emotional labor or give me death (to benefits).

I’m tired of giving and not receiving.

Save some of that energy for yourself

Lately I’ve realized in a big way that I’ve been essentially throwing myself at people in friendships (with or without benefits), offering them my emotional energy carte blanche, and initiating a vast majority of conversations to make sure we’re always feeling connected.

And it has left me utterly drained.

So I’ve pulled back. I’ve asked people to initiate sometimes because I can’t do it all anymore. The consequence of that is that we don’t talk as frequently, which leads to a bit of initial panic as someone with a traumatic and codependent background.

If I don’t reach out to let them know I’m okay, how will I know they’re okay?

Maybe it’s just safe to assume everything is okay.

If there’s a conflict that needs discussed, I trust that people who care about me will tell me and initiate a conversation so we can resolve it.

I don’t have to keep in constant contact with people for them to know I love them. Nor do they have to keep in constant contact with me for me to know they love me.

Prone to sudden bursts of encouragement. They/them. Queer, autistic author of bit.ly/GaslightingMillennials

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