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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…

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When Did I Get on the Relationship Escalator?

Hi Yana,

I have a few questions about monogamy. I guess, part of it stemming from a recent post I saw on your Instagram — @the_vspot — about “The Relationship Escalator,” polyamory, and monogamy. In my last partnership, my partner and I were very intentional about not falling into that trajectory, but now I think that The Relationship Escalator is something that I want.

Can The Relationship Escalator coexist alongside actively constructing your relationship? I know The Relationship Escalator is the norm and people just tend to fall onto it when there isn’t intention, but parts of the escalator are things that I want — like moving in together, monogamy, or having kids. I just want these things to happen intentionally and with discussion and amendments, instead of just “because that’s what happens next.”

I can’t figure out if my desire for things on the escalator are desires I should try to resist because they stem from people drilling norms into me?

— Things Are Escalating

Wanting to move in together and have babies doesn’t make you an Escalator sheep. But stepping onto the Escalator and letting it whisk you and your partner away like some choice-less zombies might.

Offescaltor.com defines The Relationship Escalator like this: “A default set of societal expectations for intimate relationships. Partners follow a progressive set of steps, each with visible markers, toward a clear goal. The goal at the top of the escalator is to achieve a permanently monogamous, cohabitating marriage. In many cases, buying a house and having kids is part of the goal.”

On the cusp of 2017, New York branding agency Sparks & Honey released their annual trends report A-Z Culture Glossary of 2017, which has a reputation of being 81 percent accurate in predicting what will be at the forefront of pop culture in the coming year. Polyamory, conscientiously sharing love between more than two people, made the list of 100 up-and-comers, which also includes elusively hip topics such as: death positivity and the museumification of everything.”

This month alone, a cool 85 percent of questions submitted to The V-Spot have been about non-monogamy. Polyamory is on people’s minds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be or love being monogamous. Further, being monogamous doesn’t require an “escalator” ride.

In my opinion, it’s not the Escalator that’s negative — many enjoy it. It’s how people use it that matters…continue reading…

 

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Our Sex Is All About Him

Dear Yana,

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re best friends. Mutual respect exists in almost every way between us. Sometimes, however, the sex feels, well, sexist. First, he enjoys watching porn together, but I really don’t. However, he always tries to initiate porn watching even though I’ve told him I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I perform far more oral sex than he does. He rarely performs oral or hand sex on me, and when he does, he doesn’t bother to ask me for feedback. I’ve tried to tell him that X feels good and Y doesn’t, but he gets kind of insulted and self conscious, so I don’t do that anymore.

He does what turns him on in bed, and thinks that, because it turns him on, it must turn me on. Though he’s listened to me when I tell him in a nonsexual context what might personally get me going he doesn’t carry this information over into the bedroom. I’ve asked for more oral sex, less porn, less verbal fantasizing about my friends, etc., but still he does the things that get HIM going when we have sex. I don’t feel cared for in this area, in a stereotypically “girl wants more from hetero guy in bed and he says ‘Gotcha babe, now blow me’” kind of way.

Our communication is generally great, but there seems to be a missing link in this one area between what we express to each other and what we do. Help!

— Unpampered Pet

Hi Unpampered!

Popular, traditional sex education is quite sexist — it prioritizes boners and their reproductive pleasure principles and treats the vagina like little more than a baby-making receptacle not worth bothering to learn to please. Call it the heteropatriarchy or pleasure-phobia but either way — women are screwed when it comes to learning how to screw.

This isn’t an excuse for your boyfriend to keep riding the sexist sex ed wave straight to blow-job beach, but it does mean that when in a cishetero relationship, couples need to try a little harder to overcome the many social, gendered blocks to good sexual communication…continue reading…

 

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When it Comes to Self-Lovin’ What’s Better: Lube or Lotion?

Hi Yana,

I recently saw a guy friend masturbating with lotion instead of lube and was wondering if lube would be a better alternative for him. If so, could you explain why?

— A Little Help for My  Masturbating Friends

One of my favorite conversations to strike up with my penis-equipped friends is: What ever did you do with your penis during your sexual exploration period? If I had had a penis during my teenaged sexual development ages, I’m sure I would’ve done so many ridiculous things with it in the name of sexual pleasure exploration. As it turns out, most of my penis-having friends did just that. I mean, an outy sexual organ that’s socially bolstered to boot? It just screams WHAT ELSE CAN I MASTURBATE WITH?

I’m not the only one who wonders about this. (And speaking of wondering, what exactly were you doing, Little Help, when you apparently just happened to see “a guy friend masturbating with lotion?” Also, kudos to you for having the where-with-all in that moment to hone in on the fact that he was using lotion?)

Anyway, my personal death-by-curiosity aside, here’s what a dude sex columnist for the LA Weekly advised in his creative penile masturbation piece: “Select a jar and fill it with stewed tomatoes, Spaghetti O’s, mac-n-cheese, cottage cheese, oatmeal or peanut butter. Cover the top with plastic wrap and a rubber band, cut a hole and you’re ready to go.”

My assumption is that if you can get down with Chef Boyardee, a little Aveeno is the least of your problems, but let’s make sure.

People have been slicking down their self-lovin’ with whatever they can get their dominant hand on forever. According to Scarleteen.com, the Vaseline brand of lotion was released in the 1870s as a “healing ointment.” Five years later, Vaseline noticed a significant spike in profits when people found out that this “healing” was of the Marvin Gaye persuasion.

In the early 1900s, Johnson & Johnson released the premier K-Y jelly product. It was intended for medical uses only and — fun fact! — the reason why K-Y dries up so damn fast is because it was intended to lube patients up for quick medical procedures. It took 80 long years for Johnson & Johnson to finally cave into their accidental consumer base and make sexual lubricants. K-Y is now (regrettably so) one of the biggest lube brands. (For more information about why I’m anti-KY, check out past column, “Life Beyond KY: The wide wet world of Lube.”)

Just because lotion isn’t lube, doesn’t mean it’s unsafe for your friend to jerk off with it. When it comes to penises, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Here, the goose is the skin on the inside of your arm and the gander is your peen. Meaning, the penis is made of external skin, just like our inner arm skin. So, what’s fine on one is usually fine on the other. The exception to this rule is that pesky urethra which is easily irritated — yikes! UTIs!

Good household item choices for your friend include: saliva, Vaseline, Crisco, butter, body lotion, olive oil, baby oil, and, apparently according to LA Weekly, a variety of canned and instant pantry items, which I am just not fully prepared to personally endorse…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: Will Our Mixed Desire Dating Last?

 

Hi, Yana!

I recently started dating somebody who ticks (nearly) all the right boxes for me. This is the first time since breaking up with my sweetheart of over two years that I’ve felt this way, and it’s really exciting. There’s only one hiccup: he seems to be grey-a and I’m about as allosexual as it gets. He prefers to cuddle; I’d have sex twice a day if I could.

We talked about this shortly after we started seeing each other, and it seems like things are workable, at least for now — he says he’s game for non-monogamy and I have other partners who are excited to have the kind of sex that excites me. He’s my only local partner, though, and I can’t help but wonder if this sort of arrangement is sustainable. I’m really wary of implicitly pressuring him into being more sexual than he’d like, but I also can’t help the fact that I’m super horny basically always.

How common are successful allosexual/asexual relationships? What can we do to make sure that both of our needs are getting met? What can we do to make sure that we don’t hurt each other if/when our sexual desires don’t match up?

-Dating, But Not Mating

Dear Not Mating,

In any romantic and/or sexual dynamic with another person, it’s impossible that our desire will perfectly mirror our partner’s and many couples have extreme desire discrepancies. This particular dynamic with your Grade A, grey-a bae just has a slightly more disparate desire difference to negotiate.

First, let’s nail some terms, courtesy of my former intern Emmett DuPont who wrote a great blog post for my website about just this:

  1. Allosexual: You & the majority of people. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a necessary part of partner relationships.
  2. Grey asexuality. Grey-ace. Grey-A: Your boo. Emmett says: Grey-A is a term that people might use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally”.
  3. Asexual: Emmett says: “Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain, consensual sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner”.

So, how do you deal with such a desire discrepancy (besides consensual non-monogamy which, you’re already doing)?

In a 2014 interview with EverydayFeminism.com, David Jay, founder of Asexuality.org reminds allosexual partners that “It’s important to give asexual people a place to celebrate and talk about all their important relationships, not just sexual ones. Sexual people need to treat those kinds of intimacy as if they are as interesting and exciting as romantic/sexual intimacy because they are!”.

Which is to say, Not Mating, any implicit pressure for your partner to sexually perform at your allosexual level will likely come from inside of you. If you’ve made genuine peace with all that comes with enthusiastically consenting to dating a greysexual person in all of their glory, you will be less likely to inadvertently turn up the heat for more than they have to offer you.

Be clear about what you are truly okay with, too. In a mutually respectful relationship, there is no space for pity or charity. In fact, it may even disempower your partner’s already marginalized sexuality identity even further if you continue to date him because you want to prove to him or yourself that you can do without a certain level of sexual interaction. Especially if you can’t! Each of you are entitled to have, express, and be honored for your unique desire levels and identities.

Finally, avoiding hurt is something we all want in our relationships but may not be able to fulfill, especially in a relationship with inherently conflicting desires built into it. Though I can’t give you a percentage of success here, I can tell you this relationship will take some honest boundary setting, exploring, and work, as all desire discrepancies do!

 

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Am I in a Healthy Open Relationship?

Hi Yana –

I’m in a happy, long-distance monogamish relationship with the human of my dreams. Really; things are so good. This is my first time having an open relationship, and I think we talk through things really well and effectively. He has several partners (all of which I’ve met and adore) and I can say really genuinely that I’m happy that he has these other sexual relationships in his life.

The thing is, even though I was the person to suggest an open relationship, I’ve had yet to “take advantage” of our arrangement, if you know what I mean.

There are a few reasons for this. I have a lot on my plate; between school and work and volunteering, there are no days off in my schedule and limited “free” time. It feels like a lot to prioritize my friendships, let alone go through the work of introducing a new romantic/sexual partner into my social circle.

The few people I had periodical, casual sex with prior to starting this relationship are not comfortable continuing sexual relationships with me after I’ve started this relationship (a decision I understand and respect). And honestly, I think I harbor a little bit of lovesickness for my partner, and therefore I don’t want to put myself (and truthfully, another person) in a situation where I can’t be fully present in our sexual encounter because I’m wishing I was with my partner and not them, you know?

On some level, I know this is okay. But I can’t help but ask myself, am I doing “monogamish” right? Is it okay that for now, I like having the option to sleep with other people even if I don’t readily take advantage of it?

Sincerely,

Lovesick Monogamish

 

Dear Lovesick,

Leaving the proverbial door open even just a tiny crack on any and all tethers to one particular place, person, or thing makes a world of difference in my commitment to that place, person, or thing. It’s not that I want to flake on my responsibilities or relationships: it’s more that if it’s my choice to be here I will be here more and better than ever. On the flip side, if I perceive no breathing room or exit, you bet I’m going to spend my time clamoring to find and utilize one.

Maybe you just find comfort in knowing that if you want to experience sex with someone other than your long-distance love, you can. But that doesn’t mean you HAVE to. Just because you’re surrounded by delicious cupcakes doesn’t mean you have to eat them all or even swipe your finger through the frosting. But put you in a room full of desserts and tell you not to touch any of them and you might start feeling extra sweet in the tooth and/or resentful of whoever slapped that rule on you.

So much of what you’re saying here in regards to protecting other partners from your lovesickness, keeping strong boundaries around your friend/school/volunteer time, and being extra comfortable with his other partners all sounds like you’ve got a really healthy relationship-self balance going on here. Whether monogamous or not this is quite a feat in itself so pat yourself on the back!

Many folks who practice this style of non-monogamy, where their partner sees a lot of other people but they don’t, come up against extra skepticism from friends, family, and acquaintances. People can easier accept the novelty of “having your cake and eating it too” as long as it’s “fair” even though non-monogamous relationships that rely on tit-for-tat scorekeeping often crash and burn; faux fairness is often masking some deep-rooted not okay-ness with relationship agreements.

I would imagine that you get a little extra of this skepticism due to your perceived gender imbalance of him “being able to sleep around” and you “just letting it happen”. But it sounds like you know and feel much better than that. If it’s my stamp of approval that’ll tip the scales in favor of you internalizing the belief that if it works for you, him, and the rest of the crew then it’s A-OK then yes! You seem happy! Stamp! You’ve got it!

 

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How Do We Get The Mood Back?

Hi Yana,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time. We moved in together six months ago into our new home in New Mexico. But, I’m really not feeling our sex life lately. I feel bad because my boyfriend is amazing, but I’m never ever in the mood to have sex.

Lately, we have sex once a month and it’s only because I feel bad so I just pretend. Is there anything I can do? We’re a rather conservative couple, but how do I get the mood back? We’ve just been together so long and work is so tiring that we kinda just don’t really think about it anymore. But it weighs on us. And I want a little excitement between us again. Any advice?

— Feeling Dry in the Desert

Long-term couples make a common mistake: waiting for The Mood to strike spontaneously. More-so, they both wait for The Mood to strike each of them, at the same and right time. The timing gets more particular still as we wait for the cosmic alignment of The Mood, our work schedules, menstrual cycles, etc. If we all waited for this divine intersection, we’d never have sex. You gotta manage that mood! Intentionally manage The Mood? *GASP!* “But what about sexiness?

Mainstream depictions of sex show that sex is only sexy when it’s void of outright communication. Therefore, we think that if we intentionally manage The Mood, we can’t possibly also be sexy. But this simply isn’t true and is also in fact detrimental to your sex life. So, what do you do?

1.) Ditch the idea of The Mood as all-ruling and spontaneous. Bye, Mood!

2.) Verbally acknowledge to your boyfriend that The Mood as you’ve known it has fallen by the wayside (normal!) and that you’d like to respark your sexual connection.

3.) Schedule sex. Sure, if one of you gets food poisoning that night, you won’t be having the sex. It’s not a contract. But, carving out space for sex at least gives it a chance.

4.) Redefine sex. You don’t have to do the all-out, two-hour long, multi-orgasmic marathon sex date to have it be successful. Maybe you’ll make out hot and heavy for an hour and then call it quits. If you give yourselves permission to do these smaller sexual activities, it’ll likely lead to more. But, knowing that it doesn’t have to makes the whole thing less daunting…continue reading…

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My Boyfriend Might Be Gay. Should I Care?

Hi Yana,

I recently began “dating” my best guy friend over this winter break. He’s told me that he was raised by a super religious mom and that when he was younger he “rebelled,” and experimented with other men, which he blamed on his homophobic upbringing. He told me he’s had sex with another man, but has since concluded that he was straight. I didn’t ask many questions other than, “So, do you think you’re gay?” to which he responded, “No, I’m not gay.”

The night after this conversation, I invited him to dinner with my friends and he brought a male friend. During dinner, they both mysteriously disappeared to the bathroom for over 10 minutes and returned within seconds of each other. When we all went back to my house to hang out, they spent most of their time close together, making flirtatious eye contact, and practically cuddling on the couch. All of my friends noticed these intimate exchanges, too.

The thing is, my boyfriend isn’t really my boyfriend officially, though we have had conversations about being “exclusive.” We’re best friends first, so if he’s gay or bisexual, I’ll deal with it, but I don’t understand why he’s hiding it from me.

Am I being paranoid? Should I talk to him about this? Is he flirting with this guy in front of me because he wants to get caught? I’ve already asked him if he’s gay, and he said no, so why am I obsessing over his sexuality, and how do I deal with the potential fact that the guy I love may be identifying as straight, but secretly hooking up with his male friend?

— Boys Will Be Boys?

Dear Boys,

There’s a lot happening here, made more complex by cultural norms that sort of approve of straight women hooking up with each other, but condemn any and all sexual experimentation between men. Other things that make this situation complex are his experiences in his earlier years, which don’t seem to have given him the permission to explore the differences between his sexual experiences and sexual identity.

It’s totally possible to identify as straight and still hook up with men. That’s something people do and are entitled to do as everyone’s sexuality is theirs to define. Similarly, people are entitled to identify as bisexual even if they’ve never experienced sexual acts with someone of the same or different gender. Your identity isn’t a passport, you don’t need a stamp to prove you’ve been there. But knowing this for yourself requires permission to explore, which maybe hasn’t been granted to your boyfriend.

I want to propose a different, possibly unpopular, way of looking at this situation: Rather than playing sexuality investigator and making it your mission to figure out “who he really is,” view this issue as a communication and boundaries problem. Though figuring out your boyfriend’s sexuality certainly feels important right now, it also isn’t entirely necessary to resolve your particular situation…continue reading…