, , , , ,

"How do I talk to my girlfriend about getting a sex toy? (I’m also a girl.) And at what age do you think it’s appropriate?"

Question submitted by Anonymous

Constance says:

Ok first off: I work at a sex toy shop and out of all the questions I get, this is one of my FAVORITES. There’s nothing I love more than working with people who are putting themselves out there and exploring a new part of their relationship.

When it comes to bringing up the topic of sex toys with a partner, I’ve personally always preferred a blunt approach. I’ve found that dancing around the topic just makes things more awkward and opens it up to confusion. Try to find a casual, comfortable moment when the two of you won’t be interrupted (this may not be a conversation to have at the local coffee shop) and directly bring it up. Being upfront about it can show your girlfriend that this isn’t a big deal, which can help everyone be more honest and comfortable about what they’re feeling.

You might find it helpful to start off with a comment about how much you enjoy whatever things you’re already doing before mentioning something you think might be fun. Something along the lines of, “Hey darling, you know how much I love it when you X my Y? I was thinking that it might be even more fun if we also had a [insert whatever sex toy you’re thinking of here].” The point isn’t that you’re unhappy with whatever bumping-and-grinding you’re getting up to, but that you think there’s something fun that you could bring in. (Sidenote: If you are unhappy with your sex life with your partner, that’s a whole other conversation. Remember that a sex toy isn’t the magic cure—honest communication is going to be your best friend there.)

Some people recommend buying an inexpensive sex toy before having the conversation so that you can be like, “Hey, I found this and thought it might be fun to try!” The idea there is that you’re keeping it casual and making things simple by presenting one concrete thing to consider rather than a bigger question of sex toys in general. I’m not a huge fan of this approach because I think it can feel more like “Surprise! Let’s Do This!” rather than opening up a conversation. Instead of buying a toy before the conversation, I recommend having a plan you can offer of what it would look like if she’s into the idea. Do some pre-conversation research to get a sense of where you might get a sex toy, what the options are, what your potential budget is, and so on. This can help give specifics for her to think about without springing a sex toy upon her without warning.

The best thing you can do in this conversation is be honest and open with your girlfriend and be willing to listen to her concerns. She may not want to run out to get a sex toy right at that moment, but these conversations are important for couples to understand each other even more.

As for the second part of your question: I’m not really sure there is an inappropriate age to get a sex toy. For those of us who have sexual urges, the instant we begin to experience them is usually when we tend to find sex toys all over the place. Early sexual desire drives innovation as we find new uses for washing machines, handles of hairbrushes, or the classic electric toothbrush. If someone is old enough to be repurposing household objects for sex toys, then I don’t see what’s wrong with them having something that’s actually intended for that purpose. I will say that not everyone agrees with me on this and that you should check to see what your local restrictions are on getting sex toys: Can people under 18 go into a sex toy shop in your state? Can you buy them online?

Exploring our sexual desires alone and with our partners can be filled with anxiety and joy. Sometimes things aren’t going to work out like you hoped, but the important thing is being able to communicate what you need and listening to everyone involved. There’s no surefire way to know how things will turn out, but you can’t go wrong with plenty of research, empathy, and kindness. Sending my best wishes to you.

***

Constance Augusta A. Zaber is a New England writer interested in history, sex practices, libraries, what she’s going to eat next, and Virginia Woolf. She writes about books (particularly those by trans authors) online, sells sex toys in a college town, and is working on an undergraduate degree in Sexology. Her personal, professional, and academic work is based in her experiences as a white, Jewish, trans woman with clinical depression and anxiety. Follow her on Twitter @augustazaber
Support our work on Patreon (and get fun stuff, too)!

share:

, , , , , ,

"I identify as bisexual, and have been dating a guy for nearly two and a half years now. For the past several months I've been having very strong feelings for a female colleague of mine and this weekend we hooked up. She has feelings for me as well but we can't date because of workplace rules. Is it worth breaking up my relationship with 2 years guy for a person I can't even be with? I can't be out at work or at home. Thank you for taking the time to read this."

Question submitted by thisispoppycock

Kristin says:

Hello there, Poppycock.

Here is the thing: breakups shouldn’t hinge on whether or not you have the opportunity for another relationship or not, they should hinge on how you feel about the person you are dating.

From the tone of your question, I am getting that you are in a monogamous relationship. You have feelings for another person, and those feelings turned into making out… and guess what? Your feelings for this other person didn’t go away. They intensified. Which also means that, dating or not, you are in an emotional (and now physical!) relationship with this other person. Even in many non-monogamous relationships, this would be past the point at which you would need to tell your partner about these feelings (and those actions).

I totally get having to stay closeted for various reasons, but, all on its own, that can be a very heavy weight to bear. Adding on to that heavy stuff with another, ongoing secret is going to slowly press on all your bones and muscles and tendons and cells until you find yourself swirling around on the inside of it all, totally confused and very, very lost. That lost and confused part is where most of us make super careless decisions and do things we wish we hadn’t.

Another thing that I would like to point out: you didn’t tell us anything about how you feel about your boyfriend! Not to read too much into the absence of that content, but liiiiiiike… my gut tells me that your feelings for him are rooted in the history and length of your relationship together and not the current state of the partnership itself. Your question essentially says: “If this girl and I could date, I would leave him without thinking twice.” That means that you and this boy should not be together, because, if for nothing else, it is incredibly unfair to him.

I think you need to come clean with your boyfriend and/or you need to break up with him. If you decide that telling him about the girl would only add insult to injury, fine, skip it, but it’s time to walk away. You have things you need to explore, and you aren’t going to be able to do that and also be a good partner to him at the same time.

It’s scary to take that step into the unknown, and many of us are afraid of being alone – but it is when we take those steps and find that solitude that many of us actually discover what we need and who we are.

Good luck. <3

Support our work on Patreon (and get fun stuff, too)!
Got a question that needs answering? Send it to us!

share:

, , , , ,

“I want to make friends with/potentially date a woman in my grad program. I met her during orientation, and I was immediately drawn to her enthusiasm and wit. I’m taking online classes from out of state, but I will move to campus in the next semester. She’s on campus now. We are Facebook friends, but we haven’t talked much. How can I start getting to know her without coming on too strong/only talking about school? P.S. I know she’s at least bi because she mentioned an ex-girlfriend. I am also bi.”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Claudia Astorino Says:

Well, hellooooo there, Anonymous!  As I write this, it’s a beautiful Friday—the sun’s out, it’s not freezing-my-butt-off cold, the weekend’s nigh, and I’m feelin fine! In celebration of this OMG IT’S ALMOST SUMMER weather, enjoy this silly classic Muppets video I love, “Mahna Mahna.” Hey, is it cool if I call you Mahnanymous?! I SURE HOPE SO (cuz I’m doin it).

So. Mahnanymous. Having crushes can be S T R E S S F U L L L L L, but they can also be kind of fun problems to have. I mean, cute folks! Daydreams! Nervous flutters!  POSSIBLE SMOOCHES (if you’re into smooches—hello, lovely asexual friends)! Or a rad new platonic friend! Lotsa good stuff can come out of crushes.

If you’re a grad student, then you’re likely going to be spending a TON of time with at least some folks in your program. With these folks, you’ll be: in class together, in the department together, in the library together, having study parties together, having actual parties together, and generally hanging around one another ALL THE DANG TIME. As long as the folks in your department aren’t particularly cliquey, you will have approx a zillion billion opportunities to make friends with and get to know your fellow grad students.

Including your crush. *heart eyes emoji*

The fact that you’ll be coming to campus next semester gives you perfect excuse to contact her—and the fact that you’re already Facebook friends gives you a low-key way to do so! I’d suggest contacting her via Messenger with something like the following:  “Hey there! This is Mahnanymous, from [your grad program]—it was great to meet you at orientation! How are you liking [the program so far, particular class, place your school is in]? I did my first [length of time] online, and am excited to be moving onto campus next semester! It would be great to hang out when the new semester starts—want to get [coffee, a beer, a doughnut] together sometime? Hope you’re doing great!”

BOOM! And just like that you started talking to her—GO YOU!

image

If she takes you up on that hangout, that’s great! But if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have AMPLE opportunities to talk. See above: you’ll be around your fellow classmates 23 ½ / 7. And the fact that you’ll probably be doing at least some of the same work means that you can use work stuff as an excuse to hopefully talk about non-work stuff! Ask her if she wants a study buddy at the library, to work on homework together, to bone up for your upcoming exam. AND REMEMBER, YA CAN’T WORK *ALL* THE TIME. Ask if she wants to take a break to go get coffee, a beer when you’re done, a doughnut (YOU CAN SEE I’M NOT TERRIBLY CREATIVE, BUT YOU GET THE POINT, RIGHT). Tell her you really wanted to go see this movie, this cool exhibit at a museum, this great restaurant, this show—does she wanna come too?

Y’all, I have gotten a lot of crushes on women I met through school, and this chat-and-chill method has def worked for me. I had crushes on some women and then ended up not having any chemistry with, but remained either great classmates or my besties. And, my dear Mahnanymous, it’s worth mentioning that my amazing girlfriend of 5+ years? I met in class during grad school. I said hi cheerfully when I saw her, even though there wasn’t time to talk besides that. I paid attention to when she was in lab and tried to study around the same times she did. When I needed a break, I asked if she wanted to grab something from the corner deli, or walk around the block a few times. I invited her along when I hung out with other students in my class. And eventually, I asked if she wanted to go on a date. AND SHE DID.

One last thing you should think about, Mahnanymous, as you get to know your crush: dating someone/breaking up with someone in the same academic field has major pros/cons. Dating someone that’s in your same academic field can be fantastic. There’s something amazing about dating someone who just GETS IT: who knows the words you’re using, who can intelligently pick apart theory, who can act as a sounding board for your ideas. IT’S GREAT.

That being said, if you break up with someone in your grad program, you’ll still see them regularly. In class, in the lab, at seminar, at journal club. And well into your academic career—at the conferences every year, at the symposia you organized, at the women in science workshop you’re going to. You should ask yourself: Is this person awesome enough that I’m willing to date them knowing that I’ll have to see them forever after we break up? First things first—talk to your crush! Save that ish for later!

Well, Mahnanymous, I hope this helped!  Good luck talking to Crushy McCuteface, and best of luck in your grad program! <3

***

Claudia Astorino is an intersex activist living in NYC and a Point Foundation Scholar for LGBTQ students.  Claudia is the former Associate Director of Organization Intersex International’s USA chapter (OII-USA).  She coordinates the Annual Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) events in NYC and writes for Full-Frontal Activism: Intersex and Awesome (her personal blog) and Autostraddle. Follower her on Twitter @claudistics

Support our work on Patreon (and get fun stuff, too)!
Got a question that needs answering? Send it to us!

share:

, , ,

“I have just started seeing a fabulous lady and we’re getting to a point where it seems likely that we’ll have some form of sexual contact soon. I’m a trauma survivor and I have boundaries for what I like in bed and what is triggering- how do I bring this up with a potential partner without scaring her away or divulging too much personal info the first time we’re in bed together? I don’t want things to be weird!”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Rachel Halder says:

How exciting that you’ve met such a fabulous person! It is incredibly exciting when we meet that special someone who just makes our heart sing. As an abuse survivor, I also recognize the apprehension in divulging on a very personal history with someone you want to impress and keep around. It’s a tricky scenario!

Sharing this vulnerable history can feel like an unfair aspect of being a survivor. But sharing parts of your past isn’t something that only survivors need to do. All relationships are influenced by a person’s history—we all carry old patterns, thoughts, and cycles into new territory. This isn’t necessarily a beneficial thing to do, but it is a very human thing to do. Therefore, anytime we open up a space with another person—whether that be a romantic partner or just a new friend—there will always be a sort of navigation that takes place between two people’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual histories.

We all have some sort of trauma we are carrying around within us, too, and that typically comes up eventually in one way or another. My personal belief is that if we share that trauma with someone we are about to be sexual with, and they run away or don’t want to go there with you, then that person wasn’t really as fabulous as we once thought. It’s not that they are “bad,” but it does mean that they don’t have the ability to be compassionate and/or vulnerable with themselves, and are therefore unable to hold your history, experiences, and life within themselves. If someone is unable to open up and share that space with us, then are they really worth our time and energy? I personally don’t think so. I want someone to see all of me, just as I want to see all of them.

My greatest relationships—both romantic and platonic—have been the ones where I can speak honestly and upfront about my life experiences and not feel shame because of it. My greatest relationships have been formed around a compassionate container of listening and understanding where our hurts are held and loved. My greatest sexual relationships have been built on a groundwork of speaking openly about sexual desires, fears, and apprehensions. They have been based on safe words and the idea that if a person says “no” or “it’s too much,” that it is respected and understood. They have been built on honesty and open communication, rather than projection and apprehension.

Because of the uncomfortable and shaming aspect of a lot of these topics, there’s never a “perfect moment” to bring up these conversations, so if that’s what you’re searching for, you may never find it! But that doesn’t mean there won’t be windows of opportunities to talk to your lady. I always find it helpful to rehearse what I want to say so I understand my own feelings, emotions, and understandings around the story I want to share. I also find it’s best to go into the conversation without expectations. If I expect the other person to respond in a particular way, I am almost guaranteed to be disappointed. I can hope for a particular response, but it’s also good to be prepared for a response that may not be ideal, so you can work with that outcome as well.

I also think it is best to have this conversation with a significant other before getting into bed with each other. Perhaps if you’re on the couch making out and you’re really feeling it, you can say, “Do you mind if we hold up for a second? There is something I would like to talk to you about before we move forward.” You could also even set- up an evening to vulnerably share your “secrets.” When I was 19-years-old I did this with a boyfriend, telling him about an abusive relationship I had when I was 15. It felt necessary to talk to him about this past story because I hadn’t had sex since that relationship, and I had the feeling that I wanted to open up the sex dialogue with someone again. I did not know how to open up dialogue about sex, though, without also speaking about my fears and shame about this past high school relationship.

Relationships are hard, and so are the aftereffects of trauma that we carry in our souls and bodies. But both can be worked with, healed, and restored, but only if both parties are open and willing to go there. Make sure you surround yourself by lovers who can understand and hold you. If this chick is as ultra fabulous as she sounds, she’s going to be right there with you, holding and understanding your pain, and hopefully sharing some of her own.

***

Rachel Halder is currently an MA in Religion candidate at Claremont School of Theology, studying holistic spiritual trauma healing for those who have been marginalized by the Christian Church because of sexual abuse and/or LGBTQIA sexual identification. She is passionate about interspirituality, believing that mystical spirituality is the origin of all world religions, and that at their mystical core all spiritual paths lead to Love. She blogs about sexualized violence at Our Stories Untold, about spirituality at Heart of Thought, and when she’s not writing or speaking you can find her hiking mountains or walking through the forest, communing with pachamama’s beautiful earth creation. Follow her on Twitter @raegitsreal

Support our work on Patreon (and get fun stuff, too)!

Got a question that needs answering? Send it to us!

 

share:

, , , ,

“What do you do when your relationship goes from feeling HOLY HELL AMAZING to more, like, regular and good but not so much in need of caps-lock anymore?”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Mahdia Lynn says:

Good news! Every relationship eventually faces the transition from its star struck honeymoon “i s2g this girl farts rainbows” phase to something a little more everyday-normal and even-occasionally-boring. This is a good thing! If people in relationships were always stuck in that early infatuation stage,nobody would get anything done. We’d all be too busy soulfully gazing into each others’ eyes to go to work or pay taxes or remember to turn the stove off. Society would CRUMBLE.

There’s a lot going on when you first get together and hit it off with somebody. There’s a very strong hormonal side to infatuation—all that dopamine and serotonin and chemical soup firing off in your brain that feels amazing and shades everything in shiny brilliance, making every moment seem like the most real thing you’ve ever felt. Combine that with the excitement of getting to know somebody new and funny and interesting? That cocktail of hormones and exciting new-ness is an AMAZING feeling. Love is a hell of a drug. Everything your partner does seems like an expression of the divine made human. But that intoxication fades—eventually the feelings become familiar, the hormonal cocktail calms down, you get to know a girl well enough and suddenly a fart is just a fart.

But is love less meaningful when it’s less intoxicating?

Here’s a story: I recently started re-reading my favorite book series for the second time this year. It’s maybe my seventh go at the trilogy since I first read it five years ago. The first time I read it, those books took over my life. I canceled plans, I called in sick to work, I survived on crackers and tap water because I could barely remind myself to eat. I couldn’t do anything but read. And it was amazing! I loved every moment of it. Every turn of the page was ripe with potential, every character’s arc and success and death happened in real time; it consumed me, and I welcomed the ecstasy and devastation of it all. In the end, my friends understood my absence—we’ve all been there, right? My paycheck was less forgiving.

Going at the book series a second time, it felt different than it did that first ecstatic, electric marathon which consumed me six months earlier. With another go around, the perspective and familiarity let me see patterns and techniques I hadn’t noticed at first. Here now, a seventh time turning these pages, I swear I know every beat to every chapter. Yet somehow I’m still seeing new patterns, making connections I hadn’t before, relating to the characters in new ways as my own experiences inform my reading. It doesn’t stop being my favorite book just because I know what happens at the end of chapter twelve in book three —if anything the familiarity is comforting, and I know there will always be something new in those pages for me to find. If I expected to feel the exact same as I did that first read five years ago, I’d never read again.

If you expect being with your partner to feel the exact same as it does in that early hormonally charged infatuation stage you can find yourself jumping from relationship to relationship, chasing that high and burning out and running on to the next. Let your relationship be like a favorite, cherished book. Ride those waves of ecstatic, iridescent newness. Grow with it, let it change you. Don’t mistake familiarity for boredom. If this is someone you’re meant to be with you’ll be finding new joys together again and again.

THEN AGAIN maybe you get through that hormonally charged infatuation stage and come out on the other side to realize you and your partner aren’t meant to be together. That’s okay, too! The same way you shouldn’t mistake familiarity for boredom, don’t mistake the fireworks of young love as a sign you need to stay together forever. ALWAYS REMEMBER that wanting to leave is enough.

I can’t tell you if you should stay together or not. How do you feel? Is it just the fading of those fireworks that you’re afraid of, or is it a realization of irredeemable difference now that you’re not blinded by them? A little soul searching, probably a few good hard conversations with your partner would be a good idea. Talk it out. Listen. Trust your gut.

Once you get through that first ecstatic read, it may just turn out you’ve found your favorite book.

***

Mahdia Lynn is a writer, public speaker and community organizer living on the stolen and colonized land currently recognized as the United States of America. When she isn’t working as coordinator of the Transgender Muslim Support Network she covers the geek beat as a staff writer for Muslim Girl, helps organize the annual LGBTQ Muslim Retreat, or writes as tumblr’s resident trans muslimah satirist, she somehow finds the time to be a professional chef. Check out her Facebook for new articles or upcoming speaking engagements, her website for collected works, or Twitter if you’re bored I guess? She never really figured out what twitter is for.

Support our work on Patreon (and get fun stuff, too)!
Got a question that needs answering? Submit it here! 

share: