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My BF Is About to Leave Me; What Do I Do?

Hi Yana!

My boyfriend and I are approaching our four year anniversary. He recently called me and asked if he could vent to me about what he’s been feeling. He got diagnosed with anxiety and depression this past summer, but stopped going to therapy when he went back to school; so, I was glad he wanted to talk to me.

He told me that he didn’t know if he was in our relationship because he loves me or if he is just trying to keep me happy. He explained how he isn’t happy anymore and he doesn’t know why. He explained how nothing I did or said, or don’t do or say, wasn’t the issue. He explained how he sees how excited I am when we finally get to see each other and he doesn’t feel that same excited. He said he doesn’t want me in a relationship where I love him more than he loves me.

I’m heartbroken and completely lost. We started dating my freshman year of high school, which was his junior year of high school. We’ve been through so many obstacles of growing up, changing, learning, distance, and communication between different colleges that are four hours apart. I know he explained that none of what he is feeling is my fault, I just don’t know what to do. I can’t lose him; I love him. I thought he would be the person I grow old with.

Please, help me figure out what to say or do. He’s coming to visit for our anniversary and I feel like I need to be ready to defend our love.

— On the Edge of Heartbreak

Dear Heartbreak,

This is one of the most painful places to be: stuck between what it is that you want (to stay together) and what it is that your partner wants (seemingly, to be apart). Throughout our intimate relationships we are faced with this conundrum in big and small ways: What do we, as a couple, do when we each want different, contradictory things? This stuckness is what convinces us to shut parts of us down to “save” the relationship. It coaxes us to the couches of couples therapists, and is most clearly visible at the end of relationships.

The traditional love narrative tells the story of partners perfectly synched who share more than they don’t and use compromise as the true glue. But this story never teaches us how to handle difference — the ever-present force that makes our relationships exciting and robust.

So how do you do this now, Heartbreak, in a moment of emotional panic and pain?

If you trust that what your boyfriend is saying is true (and that there isn’t someone else waiting in the wings) then the feelings he’s sharing are about him and not about you. They affect you, yes, but they aren’t your fault. The minute we play the victim to our partner’s feelings, we swallow them up and our partners are left feeling unheard, alone, and like you just proved their point: you’re not as connected as you once were…continue reading…

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Let’s Do Munch!

Hey Yana,
I am totally new to BDSM [bondage and discipline/sadism and maso- chism]. Someone told me about a “munch” happening locally tomorrow night. They found it through the FetLife website and suggested I go. Do you know anything about these “munch” meetups? How safe are they? I am Northampton based, looking to connect with other BDSM folks. Do you have any suggestions on how else I can do this?

— Curious Munchkin

Hi Munchkin!

A “munch” is a public, non-sexual gathering of folks interested in kink and/or BDSM. It’s typically held at a restaurant or cafe where attendees can casually talk. If the munch happens in a private section of the restaurant, topics of conversation may be directed towards matters of kink and BDSM, but if the munch is, say, at the big communal table in the middle of The Roost, topics of conversation will generally be PG-rated.

Most munches have a dress code to protect the group from unwanted attention or accidental outings of members, including no overt fetish wear. (Some munches allow obvious fetish collars for submissives and others don’t — check in with the host.) Despite the no-fetish-wear rule, some munch-goers dress up in what might look like sexy clubwear. In other words, save the latex bodysuit for a play party, and opt for something you might wear to a casual dinner party.

Other common munch protocols include no touching (beyond the socially acceptable handshakes), and that the munch is not a place to pick up a date (take that to FetLife).

This brings us to your question about safety, Munchkin. Something I know about the kink and BDSM communities is that they really value consent. Like, a lot. I myself just attended the Northampton Munch to teach a consent workshop and they taught me more about the topic than any other group of participants I’ve presented to before.

So, if a member of the munch is coming onto you, trying to low-key Top or Bottom to you, or certainly if they are touching you, they are violating both your boundaries and the boundaries of the munch itself.

Common consent language, or “safe words,” in the kink community are “Green” meaning “yes, go!,” “Yellow” meaning “you’re approaching my limit or a place where I want you to stop,” and “Red” meaning “stop!” If a member of the munch is making you uncomfortable you can draw on this language as a tool, and you can and should report the unacceptable behavior to the host of the munch…continue reading…

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Help! I’ve Depo Shot my Libido in the Foot

Hi Yana,

I’ve been on the Depo shot for two months now and I have no sex drive. No desire whatsoever. I Googled it and it’s normal for women on the shot to feel this way.

Do you have any tips or sex hacks to help me and my BF out? I’m sure he’s tired of coming home to me not wanting to do it.

– Feelin’ Low on the Depo

 

Dear Feelin’ Low,

There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing this noted side effect of the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which is said to be felt by about 8% of people on it. Changes in hormone levels caused by the Depo shot or other forms of hormonal birth control like the pill or patch can cause diminished sexual interest and/or physical responsiveness.

However, most research reports that these side effects greatly decrease or disappear after one or two months of using Depo-Provera. Physically, that is. But sexual desire, libido, and sexual responsiveness are all influenced by our physiology, including our hormonal levels (oh hey, Depo) and also our psychological, mental, and emotional states (oh hey, the emotional impact of your libido being shot down).

This is where the idea that your boyfriend is “tired of coming home to me not wanting to do it” comes in. Having a temporary loss of sexual desire can be very jarring for individuals and their partners. You’re both used to your libido functioning in a familiar way. But then you start on a new birth control and suddenly your drive has seemingly run out of gas. You try all your familiar tricks like more candles, new sex toys, or your favorite kinky role play, but nothing works. Your desire is DOA and you’re freaking out!

To make matters worse, your boyfriend is seemingly getting discouraged or feeling dejected. So, when it comes time to try to get busy again, you think, “Oh no! If I can’t get my engine revving this time, we’re really in trouble.” Performance anxiety and low sexual self-esteem compound what may have previously been a temporary lack of Depo-influenced libido and, and, and … Two months of this cycle would exhaust anyone, Feelin’ Low!

First, break this powerful cycle by letting yourself off the hook. Your libido is not actually a drive, waiting for you to just push the gas pedal a little bit harder. Your libido is a complex network of context and comfort, heavily influenced by your stress levels, relationship security, and yes, which birth control you’re on. You are not the only one responsible for creating a positive sexual space in your relationship where sexual desire can flourish amidst stressful setbacks…continue reading…

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SOS! I’m Spaced Out During Sex

Yana, I need your expertise!

I’m a 19-year-old guy in a hetero relationship. I was pleasuring my partner last night and I realized I stopped being present and could not become present again. She picked up on it and, well, I really wanted to be present for it but I seemed to be stuck in my head, which didn’t make her feel good and wanted. Do you know how I can become more present while sexually active?

— Spaced Out Sexually

There are many reasons why someone might check out during sex: sometimes it’s for reasons like sleepiness, boredom, or nervousness. Other times it’s for bigger reasons like fear, anxiety, or trauma.

Do you feel a similar kind of non-presence or stuck-in-your-headness in other areas of your life? Is it similar to the glazed-over feeling you get during a long lecture at school? Maybe you’re bored with your sexual activity. Is it similar to when you’re about to give a presentation or take a small risk? Maybe you’re having performance anxiety about being in the “pleasurer” position.

If this spaced-out feeling is accompanied by or preceded by racing thoughts, a quickened pulse, tightness in the chest, or the desire to flee, perhaps your non-presence is more closely related to your mind shutting down to protect you from unresolved trauma, high anxiety, or fear.

Doing some self-searching — whether independently or with the help of a therapist, mentor, or spiritual guide — is an important part of this. If you’re feeling bored or nervous due to performance anxiety, this can be helped by speaking frankly with your partner about the sex you have together. We aren’t often taught that good sex requires conversation before, during, and after, so this can feel awkward at first — especially if you’re new to sex. However, the outcome is always worth the bravery and initial awkwardness. A worksheet like the Yes/No/Maybe list can be a great way to break the ice.

Taking steps to discover what you’re both really excited about can go a long way in squashing boredom and nerves, and it is also a key component of keeping it consensual! You’re more likely to get that hot fantasy fulfilled if you put it out there, and you’re more likely to feel confident in the pleasure you’re dishing out if your partner has stated before, during, and after the act-du-jour that “YES that feels so good and is exactly what I want!”

Practicing enthusiastic and well-informed consent is extremely important and will likely inspire you to become more engaged in the sex you’re having on-the-whole and in-the-moment…continue reading…