My BF Hangs with my Ex-BFF

Hi Yana,

I used to have a very toxic friendship with one of my female friends. She always made jokes at my expense, was very judgmental, temperamental, and didn’t show me much respect. I cut off ties with her, but she and my boyfriend of over two years are still friends.

I don’t tell my boyfriend not to see her or contact her, because that would be toxic, but it does make me very uncomfortable for them to hang out together. How do I approach this with my boyfriend while still keeping my relationship healthy? Thank you!

— My Beau is Friends with My Foe


Dear BFF,

In my workshops about sex and relationships, things always get a little complicated when the vibrator demos are over and it’s time to talk boundaries. Typically, workshop participants are clear on some things: “My body my choice,” “Don’t touch without consent,” but it’s in communicating their boundaries with confidence where the situation gets sticky.

This “boundary confusion” tends to happen with people socialized as women who are socially instructed through experience and cultural mores to be polite rather than assertive, passive rather than in control of their bodies and affections, and/or grateful for rather than discerning about the attention directed toward them.

Therefore, when it comes time to clearly state boundaries (what we desire, what we don’t) we feel ill-equipped, disempowered, or just plain “bitchy” for doing so. This can come out in small, seemingly innocuous ways like instinctively apologizing when someone runs into you on an otherwise empty sidewalk, or in directly harmful ways like feeling unable to speak up when we’re relationally unhappy.

The other boundary-blocker is the fear of controlling our partners. A great way to check in with yourself about whether you’re being communicative or coercive is to ask yourself: What are my expectations? Can I accept a “no”? What do I expect my partner to do with this information?

If your goal is to express your vulnerable feelings to your partner (“My history with Foe makes it hard for me to feel at ease about your relationship. My deepest fear is that eventually you’ll start treating me the way she used to”) you are likely communicative. If your goal is to change, put down, or control him, you might be in coercive territory (“Y’know I just thought you were better than Foe but I guess you’re not. Stop seeing her”.).

Clearly stating boundaries for yourself concern what you own and what others may only access with your permission. This includes the physical (your body, affection, sexuality, and time) and the mental (your intimacy, your emotions, your trust). The only person you can control is yourself. In this way, clearly stating boundaries (“I don’t want to have a relationship with Foe”) is different from rules you place on somebody else (“Stop contacting her”)…continue reading…


My BF is Pushing for Polyamory

My partner and I have been together for five months. He wants to be polyamorous, specifically to have sex and be in relationships with other women. He recently got out of a long term relationship so he doesn’t really want to be in a serious relationship now, but we’ve grown to be close friends and more. We make each other very happy.

I told him I would bring a third into our relationship, but he doesn’t want that. I’m not just afraid of losing him — knowing that he’s having sex with other women significantly decreases my desire to have sex with him. He’s being very supportive and caring and won’t do anything until I’m truly okay with it.

It’s really hard for me to not see this as a fault of my own. I feel extremely attached to him and feel like I have to detach myself in order for me to be okay with this. I feel like it’s too soon in our relationship, that we don’t have a stable enough foundation to be seeing other people. But knowing he doesn’t want to be in a relationship makes me feel like I’m holding him hostage.

The beginning of your letter includes the phrase “we make each other very happy,” but your sign-off sends a much different message. I’ve had all kinds of relationships from polyamorous to monogamous and each has its joys and challenges. I’ve seen polyamorous relationships flourish with a lot of work and dedication, but never without difficult self-examination. The only healthy non-monogamous relationships I’ve seen survive honor each partner’s needs and happiness, with the benefits outweighing the challenges.

It seems like you have some weighing to do yourself. Neither of you is wrong for desiring a certain relationship style: you’re not less enlightened for wanting monogamy and he isn’t careless for wanting polyamory. But you have to honor each other’s boundaries.

His boundaries include: I want to have sex and relationships with other women. I don’t want to be in a relationship. I want to be supportive and caring of you.

Your boundaries include: I want to feel valued. I don’t want to feel like I’m holding my partner hostage. I have to detach myself from and don’t desire sex with a partner who wants to sleep with others…continue reading…


Masturbation Relations

Is it normal for my husband to jerk off four times in a day? And then not want me?

Maintaining a certain amount of individualism while you’re in a relationship with someone is a completely healthy — and, in fact, recommended — thing to do, especially when we’re talking long-term relationships. Pursuing your own interests, alone time, friends, goals and yes, even sexual pleasure, isn’t a bad thing. Masturbation and self-love are both unique styles of sex that, by sheer definition, can’t be done by another person and can be a valuable part of one’s sexual repertoire. Masturbation is a great way to try new things before debuting them in front of your partner, to search for new ways of orgasming (heeerrrreee g-spot, g-spot), and an excellent way to let off some steam in the grip of your mid-day stress.

Masturbation is a pleasurable cure for headaches, fatigue and general edginess as the endorphins and chemicals released in your body during orgasm have all kinds of pleasant effects. Masturbation for both men and women is healthy, normal, and fun. And quite frankly, one of the best things about it is that it’s one of the few gifts you can give to yourself, by yourself, with nothing more than your hand, a little spit and a few minutes of privacy.

The masturbation isn’t the issue here, XO, it’s your feeling unwanted, your husband’s use of masturbation, and the lack of communication about the masturbation...continue reading…