Question Bonanza: Ask a stupid question, get an… answer

One of my mottos when writing this blog is that there are no stupid questions. Especially when it comes to sex and sexuality! Sex education is so poor in most of the world that people need to seek out sex education for themselves if they want to know the 411 on basic things like their reproductive anatomy or why sex feels good.

So I’m doing another themed question post.

This time, ask a question that you think is kind of silly. Something you’ve always been curious about but never asked. 

It could just be something you assumed was true but you’re not quite sure. It can be about sex or gender, or anything relating to relationships or love. Safe for work to totally kinked out. Give it to me. Let’s get these things out of the way. Don’t not know.

I’ll be leaving this post open for a week and periodically re-tweeting to get a wide range of questions. At the end of the week I’ll delete this post and write a response post.

If you’re reading this post, take a moment to think if there is anything out there that you aren’t sure about. (I know that there are frequently questions that I myself research – so I am really looking forward to seeing what you come up with!)

Five Years on Suggestivetongue

Today marks five years since my first post on suggestivetongue.com. I thought it would be fitting to write a post in celebration.

A rough guestimate of a timeline:

~ 2005: Started blogging about sexuality on various blogging sites

~ 2007: Crafted the username suggestivetongue to further promote sex education

~ 2009: Moved all my blogging to wordpress, purchased my domain.

July 26th, 2009: First post on wordpress as suggestivetongue.

I remember when I first started thinking about moving to wordpress in 2008, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read it. I knew that transferring your blog to a new site could be the equivalent of blog bed death. Would people bookmark the new link? Would they still follow me in their rss reader? Was I interesting enough for people to care?

Having hit 600,000 views this week and having bumped over 1,000 people crazy enough to follow me in some fashion, I’d say the answer is yes. I’ll hit publish and people will read what I say. Even if it just feels like I’m scribbling in my journal and tucking it under my bed, you’re out there. Weird.

If you’ve been following my blog since that precarious start (hello!) you’ll know I’ve gone through some transitions. I was a much angrier and self-righteous blogger back then. I thought everything I said was right for everyone. I studied a lot on my own, but I hadn’t yet taken any formal education. I’ve come in and out of relationships. I’ve changed my feelings on most big-major-life-decisions at least once or twice. I’ve gained some responsibility for myself. I’ve learned to stand for what I believe and I’ve learned to accept what other people think when it’s time to adjust and grow. I think I’ve softened around the edges a little bit, but I’ve definitely hardened up my exterior.

This blog has evolved with me, and if you’ve been reading for a while, you probably have too. I hope that if I’ve given you advice, it hasn’t sent you too far astray. I hope if I’ve shared a story, it’s at least been a little relatable.

Looking forward to another year,

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QOTD: The dominant narrative

“It can be worthwhile, for a researcher,” she said, placing each word before me with care, “to look beyond the dominant narrative.” Sometimes, the people in charge “— she stared at me, hard — “all come to one explanation, and once that happens, they will do whatever they can to cling to it. They’ve staked their reputations on it being right. You know what I mean? But an attentive researcher — like you — might be able to see something that all the experts can’t see. She might be able to rewrite the narrative. If she asks the right questions.”

- Conversion by Katherine Howe

I loved this quote. Taken out of context, it’s feels exactly like a lecture I’ve gotten in some of my women’s studies and sexuality studies courses. One example I started thinking of was the nuclear family or marriage in the 50s. A dominant narrative might be that families were happier in the 50s and stayed together. Research might pinpoint one explanation for this that makes sense and sticks. But real experiences are so vast that often whatever reason people choose to pick to explain something doesn’t accurately portray what is actually going on. For instance, marriages in the 50s might have lasted longer simply because the state of divorce was different. The way we choose to frame things throughout history is not necessarily the one true truth of how things happened. The one dominant narrative of the way things are is not simply the way things are.

when you hate someone so much their smiles look like daggers

I like pretty much everyone. Even when there is someone that I don’t seem to sit well with, I find it hard to say anything bad about anyone. It usually goes like this:

Well they’re kind of a horrible human being but they definitely made a really good quiche.

Ultimately I make the assumption that if I don’t like someone, it’s probably because I just don’t know them well enough yet.

There is this special category of person, though, where you know them too well and that knowledge develops into a dislike. Sometimes you still even like them as a friend, and consider them a friend, but that friendship is wrapped in a hard candy coating of utter loathing.

Then suddenly every single thing they do pisses you off.

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Did you see the look she gave me?

Her quiche is really dry, totally dry, I bet she didn’t even use real eggs.

I heard she’s studying geology. Like, good for her I guess, but what is she going to do with geology? I bet it’s because she likes things that are hard.

God that is a really hideous color of pink. 

This is such a weird subcategory of human interaction and I’ve struggled to find a name for it. What do you call it when you hate everything that someone does, just because they rubbed you the wrong way? Irritable? A [excuse me] cunt? Is it just some form of bias that you don’t have any control over?

What do you do when you start to look at someone through this tainted lens of they could do no right.

I realized another thing that really influences this phenomenon is what other people say about that person.

If there is someone I already have a hard time liking and someone tells me something negative about that person I am 10x more likely to believe it.

It’s just like them to do that thing. I mean, this one time, they looked at me funny, so, you know, it all makes sense.

Where am I going with this? I didn’t really have a goal when I started typing. To be perfectly honest, I just wanted to stretch my fingers out this morning, so I went with the first thing that came to mind. But I’m a look on the bright side kind of person.

If there’s any lesson to be learned, it’s that we’re susceptible to mind tricks. Jedi-voodoo psychology mumbo-jumbo. As a Psychology major, I can assure you, this mumbo-jumbo is real. There are a lot of reasons we might feel poorly about someone, and feeling poorly about someone can really influence how poorly we feel about them. Circular logic kicks in and we can get stuck on this treadmill of negative-feelings.

If you don’t like someone, or if you find yourself thinking bad things about someone, consider that those bad things have more to do with you than they do the other person.

People are, in general, good. And even when they’re bad sometimes, there’s usually a good reason for it. If someone gives you a weird look or says something that seems mildly offensive, give them another shot, if you can. Get to know them better. Ask them questions about themselves. Get yourself back to neutral. And then see if you have anything in common.

You might not find a lifelong friendship, forged from the heat of your discontentment. But you might find that you bring a little positivity back into your life, and into theirs.

Jealousy in ethical non-monogamy

Inquiry about non-monogamous relationships and why am feeling jealousy about one particular submissive whom I play with on infrequent basis, yet we communicate daily, with frequent exchanges through out day. We have been at this for over four years. Signed Lazy-pants

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I believe that jealousy isn’t necessarily backed in reason. I think of it like a warning system. Your mind/body/soul is reacting to something happening in your life, but it might not necessarily be clued in to all the details. You have a long, ongoing relationship with this partner of yours, but just because you communicate regularly doesn’t mean there isn’t room for jealousy to seep in.

I don’t believe that jealousy is something you can just win at. Like any other emotion, jealousy can sneak up on you, surprise you, and come and go depending on the seasons. You may become better at recognizing and handling jealousy. This can be helpful if you often find yourself in situations that trigger that jealousy.

Jealousy can take residence in your mind for different reasons. The two that I discuss the most on my blog are envy or fear. Envy might be that your partner is having a good time without you and you want to be involved in that good time. Fear might be that your partner has such a good time that they decide to stop seeing you. Compersion is often described as the opposite of jealousy – a feeling of happiness that your partner is satisfied or taking pleasure in another sexual or romantic relationship. Compersion is often discussed in books about polyamory.

I am not sure what it is about this one particular partner that has made you more jealous. Has this jealousy been specific with them for the duration of your relationship? Is it new? Was it triggered be a specific event that happened? There are all kinds of ways to speculate without knowing more.

If the goal is reducing the jealous feelings that you’re having, I would recommend figuring out what makes those jealous feelings worse, and practicing finding some peace with those feelings. In some cases, discussing the issues you have with your partner can help avoid those triggering circumstances in the future.

If you find jealousy is a reoccurring issue in your life, you might benefit from the jealousy workbook.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog.

 

Baseline of Behavior: Your partner is inconsiderate and you’re happy they’re home

The other day I overheard an interesting conversation between a girl and her friend at the coffeeshop. Let’s call the two girls Emily and Anne. Here’s a paraphrasing of the conversation.

Emily: So I just moved in with my boyfriend and I feel like I am always nagging him to do the things that he should be doing anyways

Anne: Like what?

Emily: Like taking out the trash or cleaning the dishes. He just leaves them.

Anne: That’s horrible.

Emily: I know. But then when he does take out the trash I feel like completely overwhelmed. Like he did this amazing thing. But he should have been doing it anyways, you know?

Anne: I did notice he is kind of a slacker

Emily: I just feel like he’s not really present or there in our relationship. He doesn’t do the things he should be doing and I feel like it’s my fault. Like maybe he doesn’t know how important they are to me. But I hate telling him to do them. I just want him to do them.

Anne: Is everything else in your relationship okay?

She then went off to briefly discuss other ways in which her significant other was not really present or aware in their relationship. They got up and left, but I sat there thinking about it for a long time. In how many relationships that you’ve been in have you experienced this?

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I started to think about behavior reinforcement. When Emily praised her boyfriend for doing something that he should have been doing already, she may have been saying “thank you for doing this fabulous act, I am thankful for you going above and beyond” when really her reaction meant “I am happy that you are contributing because I am not used to seeing it happen.”

The baseline of behavior in a relationship should not be bare minimum. Simply going through the actions of being a partner (offering support, helping out, doing ones fair share) should not be rewarded as something extra. This can happen in any relationship, between any gender, between any number of people, between a relationship that is romantic in nature or not.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate our partners for what they do. There is a difference between appreciating and praising. I appreciate that my partner helps me do the dishes after I cook. I appreciate that he helps take out the trash and tidy the apartment. I appreciate that he listens to me when I am sad. I appreciate that I know that I can call him to come for me when I need him. These, I feel, are basic functions of a healthy relationship.

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“Always give more than you take.”

Emily found herself nagging her significant other to do things he should already be doing. How did Emily and her boyfriend get to that place in their relationship? I don’t know the details. Maybe that’s how it always was, or that’s where it went after they began living together. There are a lot of ways in which that kind of behavior can start (on either, or both sides of the relationship) and there are a lot of reasons why it might persist.

Talking to your partner about expectations is extremely important. Don’t make the assumption that you’re on the same page. Be honest with your partner about what kinds of things you expect in a relationship. Some people require very little “relationship maintenance” and don’t necessarily need their partner there to help provide emotional support. Some people don’t split up chores or other tasks. Because all relationships are different it’s important to acknowledge those differences but it’s also important to not let your relationship just slide into whatever is comfortable for the other person.

Never feel like you have to hassle your partner to be a human being. Never feel like you have to hassle your partner to be there for you, to care for you, to offer their part in the relationship. If you begin to feel that way, or if you feel that the balance is off and your partner is doing more work than you, there is always time to correct the path and figure out how to make things better for each other.

Sometimes it can be as simple as “I didn’t know what I was doing wrong!” and sometimes it can be a much harder to hear “We’re just not compatible.”

Life, travel, summer, and the curiosities of sadness.

I’ll start with a refresher. My summer has been packed with things. So many things. I have never done so much. I’ve never felt so much. I’ve been so lucky to develop real, solid friendships this year. With people who I feel know me. With people I am constantly wanting to get to know better. Movie nights and game nights and BBQs and picnics, dinner parties, long walks, days at the park, nights with live music, new drinks, new recipes, so much fun. It’s an introverts nightmare but I’m learning to find the balance. You can’t use who you are as an excuse not to be who you want to be.

Last night we took a walk looking for answers.

I wore a sweater and clutched it around my side. I wished it was raining so it would smell like the sky and the trees and the grass. When it’s summer I reach out. My arms grasping the sky to bring the sun closer. To hold it tighter. I lay out on rocks like a lizard and dry my bones of all the sadness of winter, only to wish it back so desperately a month later.

He had talked to me, so I talked to him. Things I keep locked away somewhere. A recycling of the same worries over and over again. Money, family, school, work, friends. Money, family, school, work, friends. Money, family, school, work, friends. I said I wished I didn’t like myself so much because, lately, that had just become an excuse. I said I wished I didn’t find such beauty in all the little things because that just kept me idle. Stopping to smell the flowers, laying barefoot in the grass, sipping coffee cup by cup until the machine made that crackling sound like it wanted to brew more but simply couldn’t.

We sat on a park bench and I cried because I’d held it all in. The regret of not feeling good enough, but feeling good enough being that way. What a trapping feeling. A girl across the park was crying too. She was wheezing and crying. She was nearly screaming. I pressed my face into his chest and asked if they were breaking up and he said no. So we listened to her cry while I cried and the bench rocked back in forth in my mind like some temporary oasis. Whatever we say here stays here, and we can go home without it. That other girl must have felt the same way.

Can you have sadness in paradise? Can you have tears that hide in dimples? We held hands and walked back past the arcade, with the flashing lights, the sound of pinball breaking through the concrete walls. A woman sat on the curb and smoked. A man crossed the street with his receipt, staring at the twisting white paper curiously as he went. A group of friends stood outside a restaurant as the night ended. And we went home.

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