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Should I Date Someone I’m Not Attracted To?

Dear Yana,

I met a girl on a dating app. It was sort of an accidental swipe, but we started chatting and met up. She was really cool to hang out with, but physically, I didn’t find her very attractive. We kept talking and started spending time together.

Now it has been a couple of months, and I’m having some reservations. Even though we really enjoy spending time together, I’m just not attracted to her physically, and it is starting to take a toll. She’s getting more attached, but this is becoming more of a mental block for me. I feel like Shallow Hal, and if it wasn’t for the lack of physical attraction, things would be great.

How do I get over this? Am I just being shallow?

— Getting Too Deep in the Shallow End

Dear Too Deep,

For most people, attraction is an instant, uncontrollable urge that tends to be physically motivated. Emotional attachment and intimacy, however, is usually a slower burn. If your initial attraction sticks as you get to the know the person, it can fan those emotional attachment flames, or perhaps your automatic attraction will fizzle and fade over time.

Or maybe you’re like so many of us in the Happy Valley, and you sleep with a lot of your friends, as friendship ripens to sexual attraction — the kind of attraction that creeps up ivy-style between you and your bros when you least expect it (even though, let’s be real, everyone else around you totally expected it).

Let me get to the point: It’s okay not to be attracted to someone. And it’s okay to feel attracted to a person initially and have that desire grow or fade over time.

But there is something inside of you that’s not sitting right, Too Deep, a little piece of you that feels like maybe you’re being an asshole. I’m guessing that this woman you speak of does not nestle neatly into the box labeled “beautiful” by conventional standards?

Are you an asshole if you dump this girl? I’m not sure if that’s for me to decide. But I can tell you how I make sure that I’m not being an asshole…continue reading…

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How to Be Curvy and Confident

Hi Yana!

I’m a chubby cis-woman in my late 20s. I lately worked through struggling with my body image and relationship to food while healing from years of disordered eating. I’ve been doing really well lately, but sadly one of the things that used to trigger my eating disorder was negative body talk from my family in regards to romantic relationships (i.e. you’ll always be alone because you’re fat).

I’m still in therapy, but I was wondering if you have any helpful advice for people who have dealt with negative body talk from family? I try to remind myself that their opinions don’t need to affect me, but I still keep waiting for rejection whenever I’m dating someone. I find that this makes me very anxious: I need lots of reassurance and validation from partners.

Meanwhile, I’m hesitant to bring this all up with the people I date because I don’t want to put my family’s B.S. on them. I often feel tense and I’m sure that my partners can sense it. I don’t want to over-share or strain my relationships, but I still want to be honest and open, and feel secure.

How can I help remind myself when I’m feeling vulnerable that I’m still lovable?

— Trying to Rock My Body

Dear RMB,

First of all, I’m sorry this familial abuse happened to you. And I’m also happy to hear that you have such great resources and resiliency.

I recently had the absolute joy of doing an interview for Curve Magazine with sex educator and self-proclaimed curvy girl Elle Chase (ellechase.com) about her new book Curvy Girl Sex. (June 2017 issue, curvemag.com, for the article.) I could not recommend it to you more.

In it she states that mega-mistake No. 1 is to “let your date determine your dateability.” That is to say that you and your body are worthy of love, affection, admiration, romance, and sexual pleasure inherently. You don’t become worthy because a date says this is so.

This level of self-love is a tough message to internalize, in general, but it’s especially difficult for people who have been incessantly told that it isn’t true. Please do add my name to your growing list of people telling you that it is true indeed: your body is great the way it is.

As humans, we thrive on connection, and so its opposite — rejection — is painful and terrifying for most of us. This means, RMB, that you will certainly not be the only one in a new romantic relationship who is navigating the line between exposing your vulnerabilities and seeking reassurance…continue reading…

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How Do I Ask Him to Rim?

Hi Yana,

I’ve been with my husband for a long time and there’s one thing in the bed we did kind of once that I’d like to do again, but I feel weird about asking for it. Basically, I want to be rimmed, but as this is something I would not want to do for him, I feel like I can’t ask it of him for me. I mean, poop comes from there! and yet, it feels amazing (we did it once on a drunken night years ago). How do I ask my husband for this? Is it okay to ask a sex partner for something you wouldn’t do yourself? I know it’s unlikely he’d ask me to reciprocate — he’s not into butt stuff for him. Still I feel uncomfortable asking for this.

— Um, How ‘Bout the Bum?

Dear ‘Bout the Bum,

Rim jobs are cool. They’re naughty, but not too naughty, high stakes yet low stakes, unassuming yet direct, and, if your husband was drunk last time you got one – probably a bit of an accidental slip of the mouth down south. The thing about happy drunken accidents like this between established lovers* is that you sort of have to bring it up intentionally after-the-fact if you’d like a repeat performance without rocks or a twist.

There are plenty of things we do with our sexual partners that we don’t necessarily want to perform ourselves or perfectly reciprocate. This isn’t necessarily an issue of fairness, but is more an issue of individuality. Partners don’t order the same dish at a restaurant, wear the same outfit to work, or opt for the same workout playlist. So, why do we expect the bedroom to be a well-balanced scale?

Well, sex has been set up by long-standing game metaphors: we make it to bases, we return the favor, we score, we lose our V-cards, and we get some. But what if it was just as celebrated for us to give some, share something, or customize our sexual interaction to perfectly suit our partnership [insert nerd emoji here]? … continue reading… 

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Does That Guy Ask Everyone Out?? & How Do I Poly?

Hi Yana,

Where is the line between “If you like someone, ask them out!” and “Oh, that guy asks everyone out”???

— Master Dater

From your question, it sounds like you like a lot of people. Maybe you’re getting some flack for that from friends or foes? True, you don’t want to make your potential dates feel somehow unspecial because they saw you on campus asking out everyone else around you — and left them as the 24th person you’ve asked out in a day. Then again, if you like someone and want to go on a date with them, you should ask them out!

So, where’s the line? I’d draw my line around the borders of “Am I asking everyone out for genuine reasons?” and “Am I attempting to fill a void or accomplish something that has nothing to do with the human I’m asking out?” Meaning, are you on an asking-out rampage because you genuinely want to go out with these individuals? Or are you trying to put a finger in your emotional dam and any old finger will do?

Of course, you can finger as many emotional dams as you want. You know me, as long as everyone going out with each other is consenting to your dynamics and what y’all are doing together, then there’s nothing wrong with going out with a bunch of people just for fun. Not every date, hook-up, or relationship has to be goal-oriented and meaningful. But your dates should know if that’s your outlook.

As far as what everyone else thinks about your dating habits, you can never achieve 100-percent approval when it comes to sex and dating. As long as you keep your creep-factor low (like maybe don’t ask someone out, get rejected, turn to their best friend standing next to y’all, and ask her out) and respect the people you’re asking out for the unique reasons you like them as individual people, then you can forget the haters and get on with the daters!

***

Hi Yana,

I want to be able to have a polyamorous relationship. How do I find people who want to have the same thing?

— Pursuing Poly…click here to read the response…

 

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Should I Dump My Triad?

Hi Yana,

I’m a bisexual woman and I’m the third wheel to a married bisexual male couple. We’ve been dating for about a year-and-a-half and so far things have been running pretty smoothly. We see each other two or three times a week for dates, group sex, and just regular hanging out. I have casual sex with other people and am available to date, but just haven’t done that with anyone else yet.

Okay, so here’s the issue: Sometimes I feel sort of left out of their dynamic. But like, in a weird way. I don’t want to be married, at least definitely not right now, but I might at some point. I’m not jealous of their relationship, but I sort of feel like an unnecessary extra to them which makes me feel insecure, or like maybe like I shouldn’t be “wasting my time” with a married couple and should be out there finding my “real” partner? It’s weird because I don’t really think that I have to be doing these things, but then part of me does. Is this just another “succumbing to societal pressures” moment or should I remove myself from this three-way and get on my own single freeway?

— Is Three Good Company?

Dear Good Company,

I’ve written a lot about the “Relationship Escalator” this year as alternative relationships are becoming increasingly common. In a nutshell, the Relationship Escalator is what the stereotypical suburbs are made of: boy and girl date, get engaged, get married, have a couple kiddos, and put up that signature white fence. Escalator ride complete.

You can certainly be logically on board with a non-monogamous, escalator-free life and also have a lived experience that’s a little more confusing than that. Relationships are hard work no matter what the style, and primarily dating two people leaves you with little time to seriously date others.

It seems like your current ambivalence is being impacted by uncertainty you’re feeling about your role in their future life. After about a year, the Relationship Escalator really starts rolling in traditional, monogamous relationships and couples might start considering moving in together or getting engaged, etc. So perhaps this clock is ticking in the background, nagging you to get some clarity about what’s to come next with your married men. Perhaps you’re feeling wary that your time is up considering that we have few role models for long-lasting and healthy relationships that involve more than two people…continue reading…

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Am I Gay/Queer Because of Sexual Trauma?

Editor’s Note: This column addresses rape, childhood sexual abuse, PTSD, and sexual orientation as a symptom of trauma.

I’m in my late teens and have identified as gay/queer for the last few years. I have dated/hooked up with a few non-binary folks and trans guys, but they’ve all had vaginas.

Recently I’ve been questioning my orientation. It’s more complicated than simply saying, “Oh hey, I like this (cis) guy, cool.” I was sexually abused as a child. Because of that I have PTSD and an anxiety disorder that makes the idea of being intimate with someone with a penis terrifying — even if I have romantic feelings for them.

I hate the idea that I’m gay because I was raped, but I don’t know if my identifying as gay instead of bisexual or pansexual is because of that. I also sometimes wonder if it’s just my own internalized homophobia (from growing up in a pretty conservative family) and secretly wishing that I was straight.

Do you think it’s worth trying to explore my sexuality further and trying to overcome this fear of intimacy with someone who has a penis? Do you think that’s even possible?

— Hoping to Heal

Dear Hoping,

I’m so sorry that you were forced to endure those experiences and that you’ve been left to foot the bill for someone else’s inexcusable behavior. I strongly suggest you work with a good therapist who can help you navigate the symptoms of your PTSD and anxiety disorder and create a safe environment for you to continue to untangle these questions about your sexuality.

It’s natural to have your connection to penises be a negative one given that, that was a part of your abuser’s anatomy. The things that trigger traumatic reactions are often environmental and can be as simple as a sound, a smell, or a time of year. A significant body part used to inflict harm on you certainly can trigger a negative response in you, and understandably so.

On the other hand, the notion that your sexual identity is a symptom of your abuse is stickier to me…continue reading…

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How Do I Introduce My Girlfriend To Polyamory?

Hi Yana,

I recently began a polyamorous relationship with my girlfriend. We dated previously, but things didn’t work out due to extenuating circumstances, but we remained friends. We’ve recently gotten back together with a different foundation to the relationship. She had not previously had any interest in non-monogamy, but is now much more open to it. What advice can I pass on to her that may help her better establish her thoughts about the topic and follow through on meeting other people?

— Boyfriend with Benefits

Dear Boyfriend,

You’re wise to give her the space to decipher her own thoughts about an open relationship at her own pace. You’d be even wiser to not hold the expectation of her going out and meeting other people as an end goal.

Why? Because putting the pressure on our partners to force relationships with other people is generally tied up in other baggage. For example, will it reduce your guilt around seeing other people if she’s doing it, too? Does a tit-for-tat polyamorous agreement really suit everyone involved, or does that create a structure more focused on a scorecard than on the humans in the relationships?

Perhaps your girlfriend’s hesitation to see others is based on her fear of how you’ll take it. To reinforce what you’re saying in theory — that it is truly okay to enjoy other partners and come back to the security your relationship — be sure to maintain your usual level of affection and attention to her if/when she does go out with others.

But first, give your girlfriend some resources to help her sift through her own suitcases. Morethantwo.com is a website packed with poly gold as is their accompanying book More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. I also recommend Opening Up by Tristan Taormino, which is well-suited to new-to-poly readers.

But don’t let yourself off the hook just yet, Boyfriend…continue reading…

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My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t

Writer’s note: This column mentions depression and suicidality.

Dear Yana,

When me and my BF first got together about a year and a half ago, we were having the best sex of our lives! Then I decided with the help of my therapist that I needed to be medicated due to suicidal thoughts and anxiety/depression.

The medication helped a lot with my mental illness, but unfortunately it made my sex drive plummet. I was still able and happy to get my man off on a regular basis, but didn’t have much interest in sex for myself (including masturbation) for a long time (6-8 months I think). Once in awhile I would get in the mood, but then I was never able to achieve orgasm.

I’ve since come off of the medication and am healthy and my sex drive has gone back to “normal.” The problem is that my BF got in of the habit of not even attempting to pleasure me. I’ve tried to talk to him about it and when we talk he seems enthusiastic about it, but never follows through with trying when we get in the sack! How can I help him understand the importance of this to me?

— Trying to Get Off More Than Just My Meds

Dear Trying,

It sounds like you’ve taken a quick and victorious journey with and through your mental illness, which is amazing and wonderful. However, it sounds like your boyfriend may have been left in the dust a little bit on your speedy trek to the top of recovery mountain.

A year and a half is not a very long time in the grand scheme of relationships and I wonder if he’s got a little bit of whiplash from where your realities once collided at the intersection of mental health and sex drive.

It’s intense to be someone suffering from depression and suicidality, that is for certain, and there co-exists another reality which is that it’s also tough to be the romantic and sexual partner of someone going through those experiences. You are feeling like your old self — and that’s so great, but it’s possible that he’s still feeling wary that the other shoe might drop…click to continue reading…



Clinical Support Options offers local 24/7 mental health crisis support for Hampshire County at (413) 586-5555 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.

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Am I Queer? Or a Fraud?

Hi Yana,

Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about my sexuality. Recently, I came across the term “heteroflexible” and immediately, I felt like I identified with it more than any other sexual orientation I previously knew about.


However, I continue to feel invalidated by my lack of sexual experience with people who are the same gender. I know sexuality isn’t defined by our experiences but by what we think and how we feel. But I can’t help but continue to feel like a fraud (to myself) because I’ve only ever been with men. I also feel like because I’m in a serious, long-term heterosexual relationship, people just assume my sexuality and wouldn’t take me seriously going by any other label. In a way, I feel like I don’t belong. When I’m with my straight friends, I feel like the “most gay,” but when I’m with people who identify as gay/lesbian/queer, I feel like the “most straight” person in the room.


I pretty much let my friends believe that I identify as 100-percent straight to avoid confusion, judgment, and having to explain myself. I feel very happy in my monogamous heterosexual relationship. It’s not that something is “missing” regarding my relationship. I think this is more of an identity dilemma.


How do I become more comfortable and confident in my sexuality? How do I talk to my friends about being sure of my sexuality without the experience to back it up?


— Feeling Flexible

 

Dear Flexible, 


When I first learned the term “bisexual” in high school, bisexuality was trending in whatever way that was possible well before hashtags and tweeting. While the term made me think, “Yes! That’s it!” I saw other young women performing bisexuality — typically at parties for the enjoyment of high school boys — and it made me unsure that this label was for me, after all.


I continued dating boys until college when I finally had my first ever girlfriend and I too felt like a huge phony. In a ridiculous twist of living in the liberal valley, when I came out as publicly dating this woman and formally affixing the label “bisexual” to myself, men I had dated on campus spread the rumor that I was “actually NOT bisexual.” I questioned my already questioning self, felt ashamed at my lack of “real experience to back it up,” and ultimately ended up in relationships with women for the next decade (so joke’s on those dudes).


All of which is to say, Flexible, that there are two types of validation we receive: validation from others and validation from ourselves. Both are important in identifying who we are and how we feel supported in that process. Identity is an ever-evolving process and our labels can change as we do.


Find people who validate you. Public figures who are out as heteroflexible or bisexual, media that represents you, friends who understand the difference between the straight man you’re dating and your sexuality, and even new community spaces like queer events or organizations that are unlikely to make assumptions about you at all.


Most importantly, validate yourself. Sexuality is often developed within someone long before she is sexually active with anyone. It’s only once we become horribly category-obsessed adults that we start to fret about the proof and experience of who we are.


You say you’re heteroflexible, and so you are. There’s no application or passport stamps necessary to certify you.

 

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Pee or ‘squirt’? Understanding vaginal ejaculation

Hi Yana,

I started masturbating when I was in high school and there would be times where something would feel good, but then I would feel my muscles relax and suddenly my bed would be wet with pee — sometimes a lot of pee. It was like in certain positions I had no control over keeping pee in my body. Sometimes it even happened if I peed before I masturbated! Then it happened in partner sex. I was having sex with someone with a penis, I was on top and suddenly I was peeing all over him. That time I did really have to pee so it made some sense. Much more recently I was having sex and my partner was fingering me, and it felt good and I was wet, but then I was really wet and when I moved there was a large wet spot on the bed. I had peed again!

Is this just a part of the way my body works? Does this happen to others? I’m trying not to be too embarrassed about it, but both times it felt pretty mortifying. I already have a lot of problems feeling comfortable when having sex with others and this worry that I will randomly pee isn’t helping.

— Peeing Problems

Hi PP –

Many people hand over their hard-earned dollars for me to teach them, in my sex educational workshops, how to do what you’re doing which, to me, sounds a lot like vaginal ejaculation — “squirting,” as the mainstream, XXX-rated world might say.

This isn’t to say that you should automatically turn that frown upside down. As with all things sexual and erotic, there are a million different strokes for just as many folks, and if squirting is one person’s holy grail and your total pain in the ass, that’s okay, too. But I wonder if connecting this damp phenomenon to your sexual pleasure rather than your perceived urinary incontinence will provide you with a wee bit of relief. (Couldn’t help myself.)

There’s one dreaded study that just keeps recirculating on my social media timelines “proving” that vaginal ejaculate is “just pee.” This unimpressive study was done on a small sample — seven people. During analysis of the sample ejaculate, researchers found three substances that are also common in urine: urea, creatinine, and uric acid. They then promptly jumped to the conclusion that all female ejaculate is JUST PEE, Y’ALL. Phew! For a minute I was worried that vaginal pleasure could stand apart from reproductive or penis-pleasing purposes. GOOD THING IT’S JUST PEE and we can go back to shaming women for enjoying their sexual bodies…continue reading…