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We Never Talk! But I’d Like To…

I know you do sex advice, but I need some relationship advice. My boyfriend and I have been dating for about half a year and he shows zero emotion. I want to bring it up to him, but not in a way that will make him clam up more, ya know? Any advice would be awesome. Thanks!

— Emote My Boat

The longer I contemplate this question, the curiouser and curiouser I get about what the exact situation is here. Are you in love with this guy and you want to know if he’s in love with you? Have things been kind of lighthearted so far and now it’s time to have the DTR (Define the Relationship) talk, but he’s just not picking up the breadcrumbs you’re dropping?

Did you go on one of those YouTube binges of videos about courageous puppies who were found abandoned and injured so they lost their back legs, but now they’ve been lovingly outfitted with amazing doggie-mobility devices and they can now play fetch like their puppy peers and your boyfriend somehow DIDN’T SHED A TEAR and now you suspect he’s a heartless robot?

First, here’s what we’re up against: an ingrained socialization that tells young men that they can’t emote and still be men unless that emotion is anger. This same socialization tells young women that they should shoulder the weight of everyone else’s emotions, but shouldn’t burden others — especially their boyfriends — with theirs.

What you can do, EMB, is be brave and unapologetically, emotionally expressive.

If “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” emotionless for emotionless makes the whole world disconnected. You say you don’t want to ask him to express his emotions because you fear it’ll push him further into his emotional clamshell. Are you also worried this would turn you into one of those girls who “nags” her boyfriend about emotions?

But more importantly: How does his lack of emotional expression make you feel? Hurt, abandoned, unclear, insecure, disconnected, invalidated, underappreciated, and lonely are some words that pop into my mind when I imagine my own partner shutting off his emotions in our relationship. Maybe some of those ring a bell for you…continue reading…

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Feeling Menage-a-Trepidatious

About a year ago my girlfriend told me that she thinks she’s bi and that it was important for her to explore sex with women. So, I know at this point, as a dude, I’m supposed to go all crazy excited about a three-way, but I had a lot of reservations and asked for time to think about it. She brought it up again a couple months back, saying that it was selfish of me to deny her an opportunity to explore her sexuality because of my fears. Basically, I gave her a hall pass.

She decided that she wanted the experience to include me, so we started pursuing a three-way. We fooled around with a mutual friend for a bit and it was great for all parties, but it didn’t work out long-term. We aren’t totally sure how to proceed as far as pursuing other options. My girlfriend set up an OKCupid profile, but we’ve been together for over 10 years and so other than drunken, teenage hook-ups, I have no idea what we’re doing. While my girlfriend is really just looking for sex, I’d like someone that I feel comfortable also hanging out with.

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Hopin’ 2 Open

My husband and I were married in May. We’ve been together for eight years. He’s leaving in April for a year-long residence out of state. I’d like to be able to have a “monogamous-ish” (thanks Dan Savage) type thing while he’s gone. How do I bring that up to him? I’ve tried in the past in a casual way, and I don’t think he’s okay with it. How do you start a real conversation about that? I’m totally okay with him doing the same while he’s away and I’d want a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Any tips?

I applaud you for considering alternative relationship arrangements, for supporting your husband in making choices for himself even when they require him being away, and for writing in. You’ve shown a lot of bravery and openness to change in these actions, yet your question drips of very valid fear.

Opening your relationship whether it’s through a “monogamish” relationship, or “clopen” relationships, as I like to call them, polyamory or something else can be scary. But if you can’t be brave and honest with yourself and your husband, an open relationship will never work. Continued…