Couples Questions: Talking To Your Partner About Infidelity

Last year I bought this book called 1001 questions to ask before you get married. We’ve gone through the whole book a few times now, except for the chapters about marrying a criminal or marrying a celebrity or religious views all of which don’t seem to apply to us anyways. I keep the book tossed behind our bookshelf. It’s hot pink. It calls too much attention to itself and I don’t like that.

Every now and then I look up and ask J if he wants to do some marriage questions. He always says yes – even if it’s in that voice that also kind of means “kill me now” – so I reach my hand back behind the other books and dig it out of it’s secret crevice.

It’s one of those cheaply printed books with the thick, grainy textured paper, the spine worked through from opening and closing, listening and thinking. It’s only caused an argument or two. Most of the time I’ll start to ask a question, stop halfway through, raise an eyebrow, do people actually need to ask this?

Last night we talked about infidelity. It’s one of my favorite subjects. I like to swim in these what-if questions. We talk about some of them. What if you say yes to that cup of coffee. What if you say yes to that cocktail. What if you say yes to that movie. What if you say yes to the prolonged hug. The kiss. What if you lie about where you are just once. The line moves, moves, it moves along and so do you. You make little justifications. You say you’re just friends. You suck up that energy like a vampire. The guilt slips over you like a film you can’t wash off.

We’re a baby relationship, we aren’t at five years yet. And the idea of being unfaithful to him sounds like a bad joke. But that’s what everyone thinks, and what makes us so special that we would be immune to time, temptation, opportunity? Those things present themselves to everyone, wrapped up, smellin’ pretty. Pretending they don’t exist isn’t any better.

Sometimes it’s important to go back to the basics and remember together.


Does just thinking about infidelity make your skin crawl? Anyone in a serious long term committed relationship should be open to discussing the realities of how can we prevent this from happening to us?

Some couples answer that question by being mindful of their boundaries. Some answer that question by changing their boundaries and opening their relationships. Others hide from the question entirely, telling themselves they’d never do that. 

It’s a little scary to write about, talk about, think about. I wrote my thesis on infidelity, I read nothing but relationship politics for almost a year, but it still makes me uncomfortable to say out loud. What would I do in these situations? For me, the solution is to keep talking about it. To be cognizant of every situation you’re in and ask yourself “what decision can I make in this moment that will be the healthiest for my relationship?”


Need relationship advice? Submit anonymously now and I’ll answer it on my blog!

 

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How Can You Boost Your Sex Drive?

 My boyfriend and I haven’t been having sex as often. He initiates, but I am just not interested. I can tell he gets sad over it, and we’ve talked about it several times over the last six months. He says it’s just been difficult not having sex as much, and lately I find myself starting to become defensive in these conversations. I am also becoming more careful about how I cuddle/play around with me in order to not lead him on only to later tell him I’m not in the mood. This has been tough too. It’s killing me to feel like such a disappointment, but I think the underlying issue here is sex drive and my general feelings around sex. It’s not that I don’t want to have sex with my boyfriend; it’s that I don’t want to have sex with anyone. (Ahem, not even myself.) I have completely lost interest. I keep googling things intermittently, but I don’t know how to boost my sex drive. Do you have any advice for me?

Changes in sex drive are normal. Most people will experience ups and downs in their sex drive throughout their lives. Have there been any changes in your life recently? Stress? Grief? Depression? Any new medications you’re taking? Six months is a long time to experience this kind of change but I wouldn’t say it’s abnormal.

Here’s a question: do you enjoy having sex as often as you currently are? Do you feel satisfied with your sex life? Does your disappointment about your sex drive feel internal (you wish that your drive was what it used to be) or does it feel external (you wish that your drive was what it used to be so you wouldn’t have to see that sad face on your boyfriend.)

No matter the reason, it often becomes a vicious circle. You’ve not been in the mood so many times that when you are in the mood for sex there’s so much pressure to stay in the mood and have sex and have good sex that you rapidly lose the mood.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Attempt to remove the pressure from sex by finding other ways to be intimate with your partner. Indicate that you will not be having sex. See if putting sex off limits changes how you feel about having sex. This can also be a good way to become closer by exploring just touching, just looking, just being naked together.
  2. Talk to a counselor or therapist about what you’ve been experiencing and see if they have any suggestions. The root cause of your disinterest could be attached to something else entirely, like something you’re struggling with internally, or how you feel romantically about your partner.
  3. Take the night into your own hands – start thinking about some of the favorite things you and your partner do in the bedroom. Get that image in your head a good hour or two before you let on to your partner that you might want to have sex. Essentially, give yourself a “head start.”
  4. Just let it be – really. It’s okay not to want sex all the time or as much as you used to, if you’re comfortable with it. You may go a while having sex less often and maybe in a few months you’ll be full swing in the opposite direction! Don’t medicalize it, don’t shame yourself for it, and don’t let your partner do either of those things either.

Ultimately what to do next depends on how you feel about this change. If it’s really bothering you because you wish you could be having sex more with your partner, think about looking into some different exercises to find that place again. If you’re comfortable with it and feel like you just want to exist in this space for a while, that’s totally okay too. Just communicate with your partner what you’re feeling in the best way you can, and find ways you can be intimate together that comfortably satisfy those needs for both of you.

Need advice? Submit now and I’ll answer on my blog!

 

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My Favorite Things – November 2017

November is always one of my favorite months because it’s full-form-fall and birthday season for all my scorpios (and my boyfriend, who is a Sagittarius.) Here were some of my favorite things from this month!

Favorite Things of November 2017

Favorite Movie

IT – We haven’t seen a lot of movies recently but IT still sticks out in my head as one of my favorite movies of the year. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and I thought that this movie was a great retelling of the story (with room for a sequal in the mix!) If you haven’t seen the original mini series, check it out. They’ve rereleased it on blu-ray.

Favorite TV Show

Tie: Mind Hunter and Big Mouth – These shows could not be more different. Mind Hunter is dark and gritty and Big Mouth is light and vulgar. We finished both first seasons of these shows this month and I’d highly recommend either (depending on your interests.)

Favorite Book

This month my favorite read was Joe Hill’s Strange Weather. It’s a collection of short novels – my favorite being Snapshot, a story about a man with a very special polaroid camera that takes a little more than your photo. I’ve also been enjoying Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion which has inspired me to take on some more creative non-fiction writing on the side.

Favorite Drink

I can guess what age I was by what drink I remember drinking. First it was the tequila sunrise, sweet and unoffensive. Then I moved into rum and coke, a little something to keep me awake. From there I was purely gin and tonic. I went through a brief love affair with homemade margaritas this year but this month has signaled my move into the gin martini.

Favorite Song

Sufjan Stevens Hotling Bling is up there. So is Young Dumb and Broke by Khalid. I think my most listened to song this month was All Night by The Vamps, which I will sometime listen to on repeat the whole way to work.

 

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Q: Sex Therapy and Making Things Work Together

Partner and I are looking to strengthen our relationship after a breach of trust. We also have ongoing issues with not being on the same page with our sex life. We are considering seeing a couples and/or sex therapist. 2 questions- 1) what might we expect from seeing a sex therapist? It was suggested to us by a couples therapist on our first visit but seems intimidating. 2) Book suggestions for a couple of bookish people who are a bit skeptical of anything too fluffy or cheesy-self-helpish?

Sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch. Cheers to you guys for making the effort!

Like any other kind of therapist, the experience you have with a sex therapist will probably depend on the therapist you find, their expertise or area of focus, and what methodologies they use. Without knowing more about what you’re interested in working on, I may suggest finding a general therapist who also has a background in sexuality so you can see the same person to work through a variety of issues. I have never been in sex therapy myself but my understanding is that is pretty similar to what you may already know of regular counseling, just with a heavy focus on sex and relationship dynamics. However, if your issues largely pertain to sex and sexuality, the recommendation to seek one out may be the right call.

Therapy can be super intimidating. Especially when you’re talking about your wants and needs sexually. One thing you may experience is a weird sense of uncomfortable freedom. What I mean by that is, you’ll probably be saying some things you’ve been thinking and wanting to say, but haven’t known how to say. Your partner may tell you things you had no idea what they were thinking. Moments like this are uncomfortable but they are freeing because they create a sense of openness, transparency, honesty, and forward momentum. Odds are that you’ll experience a few moments like this where you feel naked, emotionally. 

Don’t worry about anything too weird, though. Your sex therapist won’t have you strip down and hop up on the table for an interactive demonstration. At best they may assign you and your partner some homework to do in your own time.

As far as book recommendations, here are some books I’ve read and would recommend for a couple struggling with maybe rebuilding their foundation a bit.

I know a lot of these books are just about love and relationship dynamics. That’s because I feel like sexual intimacy often overlaps and intersects with general emotional intimacy. Gain strength in the ability to talk openly, lovingly, and with humor to your partner. Find spaces in those conversations to be real to yourself and what you want. Be vulnerable with one another. I think that’s where connections are made, and those connections are transferable to the bedroom.


Have a question? Need advice? Submit now! (Or learn more about asking HERE!)

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Life as a Woman

I’m going to transition male to female. As a cis woman, what bits of advice could you offer in the day to day living as a woman, that I haven’t clue about and really would help save time, money and stress? Be as expansive as you want.

I thought a long time about this question because my first instinct when someone asks me “what does it mean to be a woman?” has always been kind of negative. Help rise up others. Try to not get in the way. Be quiet and know when to speak and when not to speak. Dress right for every occasion. Look pretty. Be smart but not in a way that intimidates others.

Gender means nothing but it’s also in everything. We construct ideas of gender. What’s normal or what’s not normal. I say I “suffered” as a woman and that’s what it means to be a woman. But that’s not right. You’ve suffered too. We all do in different ways. I think you might know more about gender than me because you’re asking yourself these questions: what does it mean to be a woman? I didn’t start asking myself these questions, changing the narrative of womanhood, until the last couple of years.

I haven’t fully figured out exactly what being a woman means, but I know it’s not about being quiet and helping other people be happy at the expense of my happiness. To me being a woman is more about finding confidence and an inner truth to who I am as a person. 

A lot of the silly answers I came up with are things that any person could know already and I don’t want to sit here and be patronizing like “did you know you should take your makeup off before bed?” because – well – everyone should wash their face before bed, and maybe you already wear makeup, and maybe you don’t want to wear makeup, and why are these my assumptions to make? 

Be prepared to be completely overwhelmed by messaging towards woman. Not necessarily in a bad way. Every magazine will be shouting at you THIS IS WHO YOU CAN BE. For a long time I feel like we (women) have looked at those messages and tried to make ourselves into this one concept. I feel now, the media is becoming more diverse. Now when I open a magazine I don’t see it as a guide book. I see it as options. What do you want to look like? Who do you want to be? Here are some suggestions to get the idea-juice flowing!

I guess what I’m saying is, what do you want to know about my lived experience? Cause it’s just mine. I hope yours is different! I hope you get the joy of making your life exactly what you want it to be. I think that a lot of the details of living day-to-day as a woman will begin to appear to you as you go through these motions. And that’s probably pretty hard, but hopefully very freeing and fulfilling.

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Q: “Is it ever OK not to believe?”

In this world of Political Correctness, is it ever ok to have a non-PC opinion? To voice that opinion? Or is that something that you keep hidden because of the perceived wrongness of it? Specifically, with the recent bombardment of sexual assault accusations, I’ve noticed a tone of disbelief surrounding the allegations. Many comments read as – not victim shaming- but victim disbelief. For example – Kevin Spacey’s accuser waited nearly 30 years to come forward – How much of his statements have to be taken with a grain of salt? Is it ever ok to not 100% believe the victim? To have serious questions about their story?

If someone’s first reaction to a story about sexual assault is disbelief, I feel that the more important question is “why are you struggling to believe this person?” I think asking these kinds of questions of oneself is important and in the end, much more difficult than questioning a person that we don’t even know.

I’m not saying that every single person who has ever said they were sexually assaulted was telling the truth. I would say that by a huge margin most are. I would also say that letting a handful of bad seeds impact the perception of the prevalence of sexual assault – and why victims wait so long to come out – kinda sucks.

I get having a questioning mind and wanting to know the truth. But we’re not the authority on their story. We don’t know anything about their experience. And offering ourselves into the conversation as some kind of faux-testimonial to that experience really, just… again, kinda sucks. 

If we start building this scale of believability we trap ourselves in little boxes of who is an acceptable victim. They have to report to these specific authorities, in this specific time. They have to look a certain way. Be of a certain socio-economic status. They must be beautiful and interesting. People must look at them and think the story they are telling is believable. It’s fucked up to judge a story on these characteristics.

And, of course, the issue of men being sexually assaulted is another thing entirely that we have barely tapped into. It is difficult to have this conversation alongside the issue of men-assualting-women because when we’re discussing power dynamics and gender equity, this is often where the conversation begins. Both conversations are important to have and they intersect at multiple places.

I can completely understand why a person who had been assaulted by a man, especially a man of significant social status, would not immediately come forward. Would you want to become famous for calling out a powerful man? To detail your assault publicly, risk coming out in the open with that story, and have no one believe you? Have it derail your life, your safety, your career? How difficult it is to face that head on? How it could impact your family? It’s easy to make assumptions and judgments when you haven’t been there. But that situation, true or not, isn’t a game to pick at. There are people who get paid to seriously ask these questions. They get paid to make their best (often terrible) determination of what happened. I’m not that person. Most of us probably aren’t.

In the end, I think it’s always better to step back and listen. Not only is it more constructive, but it’s also a more effective way to express compassion in a world that is seriously and deeply lacking it.

And, in the process, do what you can to support the people who are helping end sexual assault & sexual violence. A quick google will lead you to all kinds of organizations near wherever you are.

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Weekly Update: Why I Love Birthdays (And Hate Being Sick)

Fall hits hard in Portland

For the first time in what feels like a few years I’m actually sick. Fever, cold sweats, burning up, freezing cold, slightly delirious, and not at all interested in my nightly glass of red wine.

We’ve had one of the most beautiful falls in recent memory. Typically we’ll get a lot of rain or one big windstorm which causes all of the leaves to blow off at once and turn into a mush. This year the leaves had their good chance to fall and stay on the ground in miraculous piles of crunchy goodness.

Despite feeling pretty miserable right now, I’m still at my most happiest this time of year.

It’s dark, it’s grey, it’s wet, and the holiday season is looming. My birthday is in just one week (Nov 17) and Jason’s is one week later. We celebrate our birthdays, we celebrate the Oregon Civil War Football game, and then we celebrate a big thanksgiving dinner (or two) before dramatically slipping into Christmas with the cutting of our tree.

I love birthdays. I love birthdays so much. I’m young enough (about to turn 29) that I can still attribute my love for birthdays as “being young.” That’s something people older than me typically say to me when they’re 1) more weary than me 2) more jaded than me 3) feeling like dicks. But it’s true, I’m pretty young, and I’m still in that phase of my life where I just want to see whats next. All the time. I like this, give me more.

why I like birthdays so much, a short list:

  1. its literally a holiday just to celebrate you. get over yourself and blow the candles out.
  2. see point 1. you get cake. or whatever the fuck you want because its your birthday.
  3. you make the rules on your birthday. just say ‘but its my birthday’ as a clause following any statement.
  4. snail mail. while this decreases the older I get, I still like getting birthday cards in the mail.
  5. its kinda like new years eve. i get that rush of a fresh start. a new year.
  6. those people who come out of the cracks in the floor to say “happy birthday!” on the internet even though you haven’t talked to them all year and probably wont again until its their birthday.
  7. who are these people. seriously. do you want to be my friend or not.
  8. gift wrap. i know its bad for the environment. im imperfect.
  9. champagne.
  10. looking back at the last year of my life and thinking “what did 28 mean to me”

Ultimately I like birthdays because I like holidays and I like celebrating life and things. You really get valentines day and the fourth of july and then not much until halloween so when my birthday rolls around its like seeing a sweet sweet pond of joy in an otherwise dark valley of dread.

With any luck this cold will be totally gone by tomorrow so I can officially kick off birthday month with all my other november babes. (which is about half of the people I know.)

Hope November is treating you right,

xx, st

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Three Ways To Have Safer Sex In Your Monogamous Relationship

You shouldn’t stop thinking about safer sex just because you’re in a monogamous relationship

When we’re talking about safer sex we’re usually talking about preventing the transmission of STDs. Safer sex extends beyond any potential infections you might get! Here are some examples of ways you can have safer sex in your monogamous relationship.

Feel Safe – Emotionally – Establish Open & Healthy Communication

Safer sex isn’t just physical, it’s also emotional. Feeling safe is incredibly important, especially if you’ve had partners in the past who have not respected your body or your personal space. If your partner does something that does not make you feel safe or comfortable talk to them about it. It’s never too late to introduce new boundaries or change old ones. For instance, I often hear about people who used to be into degradation (being called names in the bedroom) but for one reason or another are no longer interested in that particular kind of dirty talk. Keeping lines of communication open and feeling safe telling your partner when things change is very important. If you do not feel safe or if this kind of communication doesn’t happen in your relationship, talk to someone you do trust for help.

Mind How Your Body Communicates With You

Experience unexpected pain or bleeding? It’s probably because something was a little rougher than your body was OK with and it’s trying to tell you “stop, let me heal/rest/recooperate.” Maybe you have a bruised cervix from penetration that was too deep or maybe low-lubrication led to some light bleeding from a piece of your skin rubbed raw. Whatever the pain is, stop what you’re doing, and listen to your body. Avoid any creams or ointments that simply cover the pain (I’m looking at you, numbing lube) and swap to another kind of play until the pain stops. If this pain (or bleeding, or soreness) does not stop, or if it gets worse, see a doctor. Keep track of any unusual symptoms in a journal or calendar so you can communicate more clearly with your doctor.

Get Your STD Test, Anyways!

Just because you’re monogamous doesn’t mean you don’t have to get STD tests! A full STD panel can be a regular part of your yearly checkup routine. It may even help curb the deeply engrained panicked feeling (even if you haven’t even had sex, isn’t that fear universal?) waiting for results if you start getting checkups regularly instead of just when you need them!

 

Have a question about sex or love? Need advice? Submit now!

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How To Date Yourself and Be A Better Partner

Can you date yourself to become a better partner?

For the past few years relationship experts have been talking about how unhealthy it is to rely on one person to meet all of your needs. Some needs are met by our romantic partner/s – but other needs aren’t. That’s why we have friends, family, acquaintances, game night buds, baristas, doctors… I’m getting pretty literal, but you know what I mean.

At the center of this network, this community, is you.

Here are some ways you can date yourself that might help you become a better romantic partner:

  1. be true to yourself, aspire to be your best self
    • When you go out on a first date, a nice general rule to abide by is be yourself, while also putting on your best face. For me that means making a conscious effort to both know who I am and deeply show that I care who that other person is. When you’re dating yourself you can always take the time to check back in and think “if I was sitting across me at a table, would I want a second date?”
  2. take the time and effort to look nice 
    • In a long term relationship people, bodies, and styles will change with time and age. Making an effort to look nice is about what makes you feel your best. For some people that’s just a quick face wash, some moisturizer and some jeans. Others prefer being creative with makeup and fashion.
  3. care for yourself, be your number one ally
    • Looking good doesn’t always equate to feeling good, especially if you’re battling depression, anxiety, or another condition that deeply impacts your state of mind. It’s tricky because if you are depressed it can be hard to reach out to get help. In relationships we always want our partners to care for themselves as much as we care for them. Try and build up a support team with the resouces available to you. You can start with inexpensive methods like going on long walks, meditating, or listening to funny podcasts.
  4. consider dating landmarks: are you helping yourself grow, or holding yourself back?
    • In the last 5-10 years, how have you grown, and how have you changed? One of the biggest roadblocks to growth is internal. Fear of success. Procrastination. Distraction. Pure, sweet, delicious avoidance for things that are just easier. Don’t let your relationship with yourself stiffle your growth and development as a person.
  5. try new things by yourself
    • Trying new things with a partner is fun. Learning something new together can be a great bonding exercise. But trying new things by yourself is also a great way to further your own growth. Especially if you’ve always wanted to learn something your partner isn’t that super into! Growing and developing on the side, apart from your partner, gives them new and exciting things to continue learning about you as you continue to evolve as a person.
  6. take yourself out on a date 
    • Dates aren’t just for couples. You work hard and you love yourself. Take yourself out for a treat: a happy hour snack, a glass of champagne, a movie, a new sweater. Go frugal and take a nice walk, window shop, write some letters to friends, journal, read a book. I took myself out to my first solo movie this year and it was one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever done solo. It felt like a private screening just for me.
  7. have tough conversations, challenge your bullshit
    • I’m constantly telling myself bullshit stories about what’s real or isn’t real. I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I’m this way, I’m that way. We lie to ourselves and then those lies get passed on as truths to others. Learn to get better at seeing your own bullshit, challenging your own bullshit. We do this in our relationships because it’s easy to see when someone else isn’t being completely honest. But it’s much harder to see it in ourselves and then make change happen. Challenge yourself. When you hear yourself say “I can’t do this thing” try to do it. See what happens.
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Exploring Unusual Kinks With Books

Your Reading List Just Expanded

One of my favorite things about being in college was being aggressively pelted with new ideas and new knowledge on the daily. Post-college, it’s been a lot harder to seek out ideas that challenge my perceptions of sex and sexuality.

SheBop does a great job of pulling out books that push boundaries in all the right ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in these ideas. Learning more about what other people are interested in can make us smarter, wiser, more compassionate people. Check out these books to learn more about the kinks (fetishes, and sexual preferences) people are talking about today.

Intimate Invasions: The Erotic Ins & Outs of Enema Play _ $13.00

Play Piercing – $14.00

The Artisan’s Book of Fetishcraft – $28.00

The Toybag Guide to Age Play – $10.00

The Toybag Guide to Chastity Play – $10.00

The Master’s Manual – $16.00

Food Porn – $30.00

Sexting: The Grownups Little Book of Sex Tips for Getting Dirty Digitally – $15.00

Buy through SheBop via these links and 15% of your purchase goes right back into running my blog! 👏🏼

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