My partner and I have been together for four years and he recently took a one-year contract in another city that he just couldn’t pass up. We agreed to give the long-distance thing a go since it’s got a finite end in sight. Our relationship is pretty solid and we communicate quite well. I find myself missing him but when we speak by phone or Skype, I feel irritated that it’s not the real thing. We get to see each other every couple of months but then our hopes are so high that the time can feel a little strained and pressured. How do we cope?
“My partner and I have been together for six years in an open relationship. We are happily each other’s main squeeze and have agreed to supplemental sex on the side. I’m a little worried about the frequency of my hookups over the past year. I meet guys at the gym, online and at a public washroom near work. I enjoy the sex but feel a little out of control. How do I know if I’m just a robustly horny guy or if I’m heading into sex rehab territory?”
“I’ve been seeing my girlfriend for about eight months and I couldn’t be happier with her. About four months ago, we decided it was time for me to meet the two young children she has from her previous relationship. The kids stay with her every weekend and I’m pretty sure they’re not so fond of me. They seem to throw more tantrums when we’re all together and my attempts to ingratiate myself to them have fallen flat. While I understood their resistance to me at first, I’m beginning to fear that I’ll forever be slotted into the step-witch category. How can I convince them that I’m really on their team?”
“The good news: I’m madly smitten with a woman I’ve now been seeing for just under a year. She is like no one I’ve ever met and our chemistry is fantastic. The bad news: I’m a 28-year-old proud lesbian who came out to myself, and my circle, when I was 19. For my girl, who is 34, I’m her first gay relationship. Despite saying that she is completely self-accepting of her sexuality, she has yet to tell any friends or family. This makes our social life awkward and makes me feel, at times, like I’ve rolled back into the closet again. I think she should be moving a little faster and am worried that it will never happen. Help!?”
My partner and I have been mostly happy for six years in a committed monogamous relationship. About five months ago he admitted to having had an affair with someone he volunteers with. He is and has been consistently remorseful. We have talked extensively about what happened but I’m still struggling. I am still very much in love and feel that he is doing his best to reassure me that he knows what got him off the rails. How do I stop obsessing about this and regain my trust in him?
“In the gay men’s community specifically, but the queer community in general as well, if two people have been building up sexual tension, but then it is disclosed that one is HIV-positive (or has another similarly serious STI) and the other does not, is it socially acceptable to lose interest and move on? What is the best way to negotiate that situation? I’m asking because one of my gay male friends is directly struggling with it — he’s negative and feels a certain pressure to sleep with positive men that he is attracted to. But I’m curious for myself as well.”
“I have yet to find that fantastic book about navigating from a sex-negative to sex-positive approach to one’s own sexuality. The books I’ve come across are either heterosexist, play on moralistic, slut-shaming concepts (like The Good Girl’s Guide to Bad Girl Sex), or unreadable in their density. Any ideas?”
“Can you change your instincts? I’m a straight male submissive, and I prefer women 10 to 15 years older than me. But dominant women are a rarity in the BDSM scene, and they’re often married or otherwise unavailable. I feel like I’m waiting for table scraps. I’ve decided that if I’m going to get any kind of intimacy, I need to swear off older, unavailable women. But younger women just don’t make me respond in the same way. I feel like I’m forcing myself to eat Brussels sprouts while still fixating on the chocolate I know will make me sick. So can I want what I want to want?”