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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 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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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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Seeking Seduction Instruction

Hi Yana,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. Up until a couple of months ago, I was extremely satisfied with our sex life. He wanted me all the time and would initiate sex at least one to three times daily.

Recently, we moved in together and it seems the spark has faded. We’re having sex less and I find myself left unwanted and horny. I know I can initiate sex myself, but I’m shy and don’t know what to do!

I talked to him about it and he said that he was initiating so much it made him feel less wanted and that I should “own it when I want sex.” A completely flaccid penis is intimidating to me because I fear feeling rejected if I can’t get him hard.

I know hard-ons aren’t always going to happen and that often it’s due to other factors, but I would still appreciate some tips on how to seduce my man and let him know I want sex.

— Seeking Seduction Instruction

Why Hello Seeking  Seduction,

If distance makes the heart grow fonder, living separately can also make our hard-ons grow harder; moving in together can change the landscapes of our sexual routines.

When you move in with your mate you get to see their beautiful face last thing at night and first thing in the morning. But you also become extra dialed into other things — like how many times a day (and for how long) they go to the bathroom. Living together is an intimate situation to say the least.

This adjustment period is normal. A year together and moving in: Really, this ebb is right on schedule. So how do we get that flow going?

First — stop fearing the flaccid! You can’t expect your partner’s penis to always be at full attention in your presence — even if that’s the kind of attention you deserve. It just isn’t how the cards fall, biologically and practically.

Just as women have been shamed into thinking that the wetness of their vaginas is an accurate measure of how attracted they are to their partners, the strength of a man’s boner has been used as a yardstick of sexual excitement.

Boners come (hehe) and go sometimes spontaneously, sometimes due to sexual arousal, and sometimes they just can’t get up (literally) to speed with a man’s mental state.

If you’re waiting to see a bulge in your babe’s jeans before you make any moves at all, you might be waiting around a lot more than either of you would like to…continue reading…

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I’m Dating 2 Men: Who Do I Choose?

I’m a 61-year-old woman dating two men. One of them is a retired, 75-year-old secure man who knows who he is. The other is in his 50s and is still trying to figure it all out. Neither of them knows about the other one and live at a distance from each other. I just ended a 35 year marriage and don’t want to be in a committed relationship right now. I love parts of both of them and I love what both of them bring to the table. Who do I choose? I don’t want to stop dating either of them. I guess I’m just seeking validation that it’s okay to date two men at once.

I can only imagine how dating practices, taboos and norms have changed in your 61 years. They’ve changed so much just in my 30! With the advent and availability of everything from the birth control pill to Tinder, the way we date, fall in love, have sex, and find people to do all of those wonderful things with has evolved at a rapid clip.

The most meaningful validation will come from within yourself, TBT. You sound happy and fulfilled so let’s shut down these mass messages that say dating two men at once is wrong, slutty, or shameful while a man doing this with two women makes him cool, powerful, or otherwise player-esque.

Secondly, in the 35 years since you got married and took a hiatus from playing the field, the rules of the game have changed. Casual sex, casual dating, and dating two people simultaneously is getting less risque by the minute. Buzzwords like “polyamory” and “open relationship” are flying around everywhere from books (see Opening Up by Tristan Taormino), reality TV shows, and even workshops, some of which are taught by yours truly.

At a recent workshop I met two participants in their 60s, one of whom had been practicing non-monogamy — the practice of dating more than one person simultaneously — for over 40 years. He described a long journey of being closeted about his multitudinous love life and relief at today’s more open dating culture. Long story short, you’re certainly not the only person in their 60s looking beyond monogamy…continue reading…

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The Rules of Attraction

I’m a single hetero guy in my 60s. Since my divorce some years ago, I haven’t dated much. What I truly want is a loving, long-term relationship with a partner and to be a loving, giving partner in return.

Here’s my problem: I’m short and not terribly good-looking (at least I don’t think so) and I realize that no matter how attractive a person’s character and values may be, or how fun they may be, if there isn’t at least a spark of physical attraction, there won’t be sexual attraction even if you might wish for it.

Whenever I find myself in the presence of a woman whom I find physically and sexually attractive, I shrivel up inside just a little, feeling, “Oh, she won’t be physically attracted to me.” Of course, this is just what can make you come across as even less potentially attractive than you might otherwise be.

Do you have advice for people who may have this problem? I had a physically and emotionally rejecting mother (working on these issues in therapy) and I know that’s got something to do with it, but when I look in the mirror, I’m not terribly happy with what I see.

Thank you for this tender question! Professional therapeutic help in working out some negative messages you may have received during your upbringing is a great step. In some ways, your thinking about this is right-on; assuming that you are not attractive or, worse yet, worthy of others’ attractions, won’t inspire attraction to you. But let’s shift some of this other negative thinking.

The consumerist culture we live in feeds off of our self-hate like a yeast infection feeds off of glycerin-laced lube. Mass media bashes us daily with limited views of beauty (in terms of body weight, height, wealth, skin color, etc.), telling us that if we exist outside of this particular, minuscule box called “beauty” we aren’t deserving (of attention, jobs, happiness, sex) and therefore we should buy, buy, buy in order to “fix” ourselves. You aren’t broken, Shy Guy — the way we’re taught to assign sexual value to our appearance is.

So let’s talk about physical attraction and sexual attraction. What we consider to be physically attractive in other humans is evolutionarily informed, with multiple studies showing the importance of subconscious influences such as a person’s smell, hormonal cycle, body posture, and facial symmetry to our level of attraction to them.

A 2014 study found positive personality traits to have an influence, too, when 120 participants rated photographs of female faces in neutral expressions as more attractive when associated with positive personality descriptions like “kind,” “honest,” “funny.”

Then, there’s sexual attraction, which you have mixed up with both physical attraction and simply wishing for it to be so. Come As You Are author Emily Nagoski has done incredible work to show the difference between desire and sexual response. Her Dual Control Model is digestibly illustrated in a comic by Erica Moen on thedirtynormal.com, showing the difference between our sexual response’s gas pedal (physical attractiveness, trusting your partner, falling in love) and brake (body image, trauma history). …continue reading on ValleyAdvocate.com…

 

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Clopen Relationships: Love Advice from a Polyamorous Monogamist

I’m in an open relationship. I’m certainly not the only person in a non-monogamous relationship these days; my open status doesn’t score me nearly as many cool points as it once did, nor is it as controversial as it once was. Everything I read about non-monogamy is like “Yay! So much sex! Whoopeeee!”

walk-hard_l
Meanwhile, monogamy is written about like “Snoooooze fest. Divorce says it’s not working anyway. I am bored to literal tears.”
Woman fed up of partner
In my personal experience — which includes a failed marriage, several long-term monogamous relationships, some epically disastrous open relationships, and my current relationship that waffles between open and closed — I’ve found that stereotypes around these storylines have left us all with some expectations that could use adjusting.

NON-MONOGAMY: You’re doing it wrong/That shit’s hard.

Four years into our relationship and one year into our marriage, my wife Chris and I decided to open our relationship. A Capricorn and an Aquarius who’d had a bi-coastal relationship for our first year, we were already cocky, low-jealousy, “sharing” types who had cracked open the door to our relationship before — allowing casual make-outs and dates with people we affectionately called “randos” we thought we would probably never see again. But this time, when we said “open relationship,” we really meant it.

Not only did we mean it, it was my idea. Chris was working as a bartender and I was working a day job in the human services industry. Our schedules were completely opposite. When I decided to retreat to the cell service-less mountains for a month to direct a youth summer camp, it became clear that Chris wanted some…company. Her co-worker Alex had been interested in Chris for a while, so she seemed like the natural choice. Wanting to focus on my own personal growth, attracted to the freedom of disappearing to summer camp without worrying about Chris’s lack of company, I jumped at the opportunity to open our relationship. I had dabbled in non-monogamy previously in more casual relationships, so it wasn’t a hard leap for me to make. The diamonds latched to my ring finger certainly helped out in the security department. And as far as Chris was concerned, she was entering into a life with a girlfriend and a wife, so things weren’t looking too shabby for her, either.

Many have written compellingly about why humans are better suited to be non-monogamous, and how to do it ethically. Tristan Taormino’s book Opening Up is my personal open relationship bible. I don’t need to re-write her theories here about the non-monogamist belief that one partner can’t meet all of our needs, or how non-monogamy’s emphasis on consensual choice differentiates it from cheating. I want to talk about what it’s like to practice what writers like Taormino preach.

Sure, you can read Taormino’s book and totally agree with her theories: I don’t own my partner! She’s her own person! Society can’t put me in a box! Then one night you find yourself at home, cleaning up dog vomit after a tough work shift, while your girlfriend’s off with her other partner Hot Motorcycle Guy — and in your jealous, puppy-puke-ridden mind, they couldn’t possibly be doing anything other than feeding each other expensive steaks before having simultaneous orgasms at sunset. Suddenly monogamy starts looking real nice.

The most common pitfalls in open relationships exist in the big ol’ gap between people’s expectations of non-monogamy in theory, and the hard reality of non-monogamy in practice…continue reading…

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Can I Be DTF & Still Respect Myself?

What do you do when a DTR conversation doesn’t go your way? I’m a modern babe who’s Slutever Forever. I’m into my generation’s DTF hook-up culture, but I also want to respect my boundaries, my body, and my feelings. What do you do when you tell the guy you’ve been casually hooking up with that you actually want to date him and he’s like, “Cool, but I just want to park my dick in you for a while”? How can I respect and take care of myself and still be DTF?

Let’s first define some terms for those of us over 25:

DTR: Defining the Relationship. A talk casual hook-up partners eventually have in which they discuss how to define their relationship — for example, as “fuck buddies,” “dating,” etc.

Slutever Forever: A sex-positive term viewing “slutiness” as the free enjoyment of sex and sexual pleasure, a variation on “Whatever Forever” connoting a certain casual attitude.

DTF: Down to Fuck. Describing a temporary or longer-term state of seeking out, typically, casual sex with limited strings attached (see Slutever Forever).

I, too, appreciate this modern world where sex is readily available with a swipe on a dating app, where friends can celebrate casual, mutual orgasm with a sticky high-five, and all of our relational processes can be defined with texting-friendly abbreviations. But sometimes I fear that out with the stuffy, sexually stifling bathwater we’ve thrown the real, vulnerable, human-connection baby. Must intimacy, feelings, and attachments be pushed aside to make space to celebrate casual sex?…continue reading…