The Reality Of Navigating Modern Dating As A Sexual Trauma Survivor

How to not let your trauma stop you from dating.

What Modern Dating Is Like For A Sexual Assault Survivor Who Was Molested As A Child The Rabbit Hole / Shutterstock

Tinder, Bumble, Hinge… it seems that everyone’s using them these days. 

It’s casual dating.

Sex is now an order-in app, sitting next to my order-in pizza options on my iPhone.

With our busy schedules, it can be a stress-free way to meet new people from a different dating pool that has nothing to do with your work environment (let’s hope). 

These apps have taken sexual liberation to a new level. 


But what does this mean for those of us whose sexuality is a little more… complicated? 

I was molested before I could talk.

This experience has led me to my own unique healing journey with regard to my sexuality.

I have immersed myself in tantric workshops, breathwork rituals, years of psychotherapy, and everything in between.

It’s led to me having a honed-in understanding of the type of partner I need to hold the space that accompanies sex. 

That space is a fierce, loving commitment to consensual communication and the mutual understanding that a breakdown can happen at any moment.

And that I need to be honored and loved through that process. 


RELATED: 4 Ways Men Can Support The Women In Their Lives Who’ve Experienced Sexual Assault

The problem is that I’ve spent a lot of time on these dating apps — and I have yet to find Mr. Cares-About-Me-Enough-To-Hold-That-Safe-Space.

Casual dating turned into a sifting-through of many men who have the mentality of “I Have Sex With Her Until I Am Motivated To Commit To Her.”

This formula is twisted to me and to many other women who are working through similar old trauma.

Their thought process should be: “I Commit to Her, Love Her, Cherish Her, Honor Her, Care Deeply About Her — Then When She Feels 1000% Safe, We Can Have Consensual Sex.”


However, the thing is that with the existing app-culture formula, my past means “baggage” is not worth someone’s time.

My bedroom performance and my body’s orgasmability with a complete stranger has become, in a sense, my “girlfriend interview.”

It seems that when I wait, the interview process doesn’t even come to pass – the position has been filled by another woman for just one night.

RELATED: Yes, It Is Totally Possible To Enjoy Sex Again After Sexual Abuse

Perhaps, by someone who does not break down in teary-eyed PTSD-informed pain upon careless penetration.

Nevertheless, I’ve been honest with the men I’ve previously dated and you know what they tell me? “I don’t have time for this.” 


Oh, I’m sorry.

I apologize for interrupting night 6 of your app f*ck-a-thon, let me remove myself from your matches so you can continue to have meaningless sex with the entire local population aged 18 to 45.

Excuse me, you’re probably right.

You only have time to have sex, but not something emotional. 

What the heck have we become as a culture?

I know that some people find love through hooking up first.

But for those of us who don’t – how can we find others who are against that grain?

Not only that but how many assaults happen as a result of these apps? I

know that I am not alone in that experience of trauma round 2 knocking on my body’s door, causing everything to get unraveled even more.


When did we stop valuing each other?

A casual swipe-able picture tells you all you need to know. 

When did we stop valuing ourselves?


And, what about sex?

When do the positive aspects of physical liberation begin to fade?

We need to start craving real deal love and trust. 

There should be an app for that.

RELATED: A 15-Year-Old Was Gang Raped On Facebook Live—What You Need To Know

Melanie Berman writes about relationships and navigating the dating scene after suffering trauma. For more of her content, visit her page on Unwritten.