Stoya On Talking About Past Abortions

We love chatting with Stoya — writer, thinker, on-screen-sex haver — about all manner of sexual, sensual, and feminist topics. In fact, we had so much fun talking with her that we asked her to write a monthly sex and relationship advice column. Have a burning question? Send any and all queries to stoya@refinery29.com.
So, I've recently started a new relationship and I really, really like this guy. We complement each other really well and it feels like things are progressing in a way that I enjoy. The thing is, we're getting to the "confession" point in our relationship. We've been sharing past experiences, both sexual and non-sexual — what made past relationships work or not. Now, my issue is that I had an abortion about eight months ago when I was seeing my last partner — which was part of the reason for our breakup. I feel comfortable about my decision to have an abortion, but I am extremely hesitant to tell new people in my life. I guess it's out of fear of judgement, or the fact that I'm just not interested in someone else's opinion of my choices. I'm starting to feel guilty for keeping something from my new partner, but I can't seem to get past my fear of what he will think... Is it wrong to omit this one part of my past during our conversations? Furthermore, is this something I will need to discuss in every future relationship?
-K
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As long as the part of your past you’re omitting doesn’t put your current and future partners’ health at risk, I believe it is yours to keep secret or disclose at your discretion. Therefore, it isn’t wrong to omit the fact that you had an abortion, nor is discussion of it a thing that you need to do.
That said, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, three out of 10 female-bodied people in the United States will have had an abortion by age 45. The 1 in 3 Campaign references this statistic and aims to end the stigma associated with abortion by encouraging people who have had abortions to share their stories.
I agree with the sentiment that the more people who have had abortions (myself included) acknowledge and disclose their abortions, the harder it becomes to think of abortion as something only “those people” do — whatever the judging individual’s definition of “those people” is. And, the harder it becomes to inflict shame on people who’ve had abortions, or to manipulate people who are currently making the choice of whether or not to have one.
And, secrets have a way of coming out. If this relationship continues and this person discovers the fact of your abortion later, you might be judged not only on the actual abortion but also on your silence regarding it. As much as it is your right to keep that information private (or keep it private until whatever time you deem appropriate), there's also that risk of judgement regarding your exercise of that right.
Lastly, do you want to continue dating a person who would judge you negatively for having had an abortion? If they do judge you negatively, what other beliefs might they have regarding your right to make choices about your own body?
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I've known this coworker of mine for a little over five years. We have always had secret crushes on each other, but we are always seeing other people... He's had several failed relationships. His most recent ones include a relationship with another coworker, with whom he agreed to have casual sex. He ended up falling for her, but she didn't. He went through some pain after she broke it off, so he went on to date some 20-year-old girl who one day had a tantrum and broke the fresh (one month or so) relationship. Personally, I haven't been with anyone since my fiancé and I broke up about four years ago. I needed time to heal, and to get to know myself.
Now, I'm 31 years old and feel I'm ready to experiment and explore my sexuality. This coworker of mine (who is 27 years old) and I recently had a conversation through text that suddenly became very sexual. He definitely spiked my sex drive and helped me become more interested into getting into an NSA relationship with him. He's not interested in getting into a relationship, and we don't have much in common other than the sexual attraction we feel for each other, so I thought this was a good agreement.
We started sexting, and the conversations keep getting more thrilling and interesting. We set up a time and place for us to have our first sexual encounter, and we both were so looking forward to it. I took the day off to get ready, but I didn't hear from him throughout the day. I texted him only once, asking him if he was still coming over. He never replied, never texted, and never called. Now, I see him at work and he completely avoids me and looks away. I don't know what I did wrong and why he won't give me a reason as to why he flaked or changed his mind. He's called me "emotional" in the past; I think he over-analyzed the situation and changed his mind. But, I'm not sure: Why wouldn't he at least say something? My cousin tells me to forget about him and move on, but work seems like an awkward place to be since all this happened. Why did he bail on me without saying a word as to why?
-K
I’m sorry this coworker of yours set up a date for sex, flaked, and is now avoiding the issue. I’m also sorry that I can’t answer your question about your coworker’s motives.
He might have bailed on you because an old flame popped back up in his life. He might have bailed because he found out he has chlamydia. He might have bailed because he did over-analyze the situation. He might have bailed because he was tired or had a family emergency. He might have bailed because he gets off on setting up times to have sex with people and then leaving them wondering where he is.
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It doesn’t really matter why he bailed, though. What matters is that he bailed and didn’t have the decency to let you know he wasn’t coming or apologize later for wasting your time.
Awkwardness at work is a pretty easily presumed risk when you flirt heavily with or engage in sex with the people you work with. Same thing goes for neighbors, roommates, and people who are deeply entwined with your close friends. This fairly obvious presumption in no way prevents flirtations and hookups (and sometimes long-term romantic relationships) from happening, so know that you’re not alone in awkward-workplace-land. The awkwardness will fade.
The tricky thing about NSA arrangements is that they are still relationships — just not serious romantic ones intended to end in parent-meeting, child-rearing, and home-building. Both parties come into the relationship with their own ideas about how a relationship based on casual sex will work in a way that meets their own needs and is healthy for them. These ideas rarely seem to get expressed to the other person.
So, next time you’re thinking of getting into a physically focused relationship with another person, express some basic needs on the front end. Tell them that while you don’t demand specific reasons, you do expect them to let you know if they’re canceling on you.
And, I agree with your cousin: Forget this one and move on.
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