Hey quick little note before we get started: we’re spring cleaning the You Need Help inbox! If you don’t see your question here or in the next installments, it’s because it’s being answered by another person in a stand-alone post or via a Lesbian Sex 101. I’ve answered the questions below with as much care and love as ever, but some of these responses are short and lots of them also need YOU. So! I’ve numbered the questions and divided this into several pages to make it easier for you to help out in the comments. YAY SPRING CLEANING! Whew let’s do this and then grab a beer or some lemonade or something.
Will there be another queer IRL photo gallery? Plz say yes!!
Listen buddy, this is a gross misuse of the YNH form but I’m going to answer you anyway because a) I care for you and b) this is spring cleaning. There will eventually be more Queer IRL galleries! They’ll just sporadic and led by our Straddleverse editor, Vanessa Friedman! I really loved those galleries and I super loved how much y’all love them, so they’re definitely not over for good.
I live with my parents and my mum’s not cool with me being gay. It crops up in an ugly way every so often and bleeds into her other issues with me (of which there are several). She’s also very volatile on and off and while it can be okay for a while, when its bad its really bad. But my parents live in a nice house close to my uni and the beach and if I left I’d have just enough money for a small room somewhere in far away dodgy suburb, and thats once I got on benefits which is a whole other complication involving basically disowning myself. What do I do???
Damn this sounds miserable. You’re the only person who can actually decide which sacrifices are the ones worth making, but your situation is a good illustration of how there are almost always sacrifices to be made, and usually we’re all just making decisions based on which of the sacrifices and miseries will be the easiest to live with. Make one of those lists with the pros and cons of each choice and then make a pan of nachos and get down to the business of making a decision.
My partner just came home with me for the holidays for the third year in a row. It was a mixed bag, but rough. We fought some, had some good conversations, did some fun activities, and had some enjoyable family time. One of the big issues was my sibling. We are all late twenties but she was acting ridiculously immature. It isn’t necessarily new behavior but seemed worse this time. For example, she’ll get stressed out about something minor and yell at everybody and then pout all afternoon — especially if anyone dares to call her on it — things like that. Small things but totally unacceptable, and they add up.
My girlfriend was rightly appalled and also appalled that we all seem to enable it in the sense that we tend to ignore or pacify her instead of demand that she act like a functional human like the rest of us. I’m sympathetic, but it is tough when I only see my family a couple times a year. I feel a bit caught between the best ways I’ve found to deal with my family and making my partner feel welcome in our family/demanding adult behavior from the adults in the family. Part of me feels like you can’t change other people and ignoring bad behavior is the right thing to do. The other part of me feels like it is enabling, and also not as deep or sincere of a relationship as I might have if I acted otherwise— plus ignoring it is not something my partner is comfortable with and she is my family/becoming part of my family too. Any insight?
Your sister acts like an immature asshole when she’s unhappy or stressed out and no amount of “demanding” that she act like an adult will change that. If she cared what anyone in the family thought of her, she wouldn’t act like toddler in front of you. She doesn’t care what y’all think and she probably super doesn’t give a fuck what your girlfriend thinks. When adults act like assholes, all you can do is disengage from them and not let their tantrums change anything.
Your girlfriend can be annoyed by this behavior — I would want to peel my own face off, personally! — but she’s not in a position to demand that the rest of you do anything at all. She can complain about it to you, for sure! And you can listen and even agree and commiserate, but not only is it not her place to tell an entire family how to respond to someone they’ve been dealing with for nearly 30 years, it’s also not something she or you or anyone can actually change anyway. This isn’t about your family not welcoming your partner (unless I’m missing something and your sister was pouting about your girlfriend and no one was standing up for her??), it’s about your partner seeing your family for what it is and hopefully loving you anyway. That’s what we’re all doing here: looking at our person and everyone who comes with them and being like, “yeah, I still love you.”
I am in my late 20s and in a relationship with the love of my life, we have been together 3 years and have been living together 1 year. Marriage is definitely on the cards at some point and we are both very happy with our situation except for one thing. I’m out to everyone EXCEPT my family. I’m not quite sure how I got to 29 without telling my family but I have. We live in a different city to my parents and I see them perhaps once a month or so, I visit them and they rarely visit my city, so I know that this has given me an excuse not to tell them. My partner hates that I am not out to them and so do I but I just can’t get the words out. I’ve never been able to find the right moment and I just don’t know how.
Lately my partner has been putting me under increasing pressure to tell them, to the point that its making me feel seriously uncomfortable and even more reluctant to do so. I was outed to friends by an extremely regrettable gf when I was 18 and every time my partner mentions me telling my parents I have the same horrible feelings I had the first time it happened. I have tried talking to my partner about how this is making me feel, but she is impatient and thinks I am just stalling. Being outed the first time was a seriously traumatic experience for me and I am only just now realising that it’s had a lasting impact on me that I need to address. How can I get rid of these feelings and just bite the bullet and tell them? Do I just invite them to lunch with “my friend”? Do I be a coward and do it via text? I’m playing all the options over in my head constantly and each one makes me feel sick to my stomach. I have to do this soon. I am more than aware that this is making my partner unhappy, I feel so selfish that I am treating her like this.
I am also aware that my parent would have to be pretty oblivious not to have guessed since their 29 year old has been “single” forever and never brought anyone home…PLEASE HELP ME COME OUT TO MY PARENTS!!
COME OUT TO YOUR PARENTS!!
We usually tell you to come out in your own time and never let someone pressure you into coming out, and I still believe in that for people whose wellbeing and security rely on being in the closet. It doesn’t sound like those factors apply to you. I’m truly sorry that your first experience with coming out to people was so traumatic, but part of dealing with trauma is being able to recognize that while another event might bring up the same feelings as the first event, it is in fact not the same event. This time is different and this partner is different and the whole situation is different. You’re even in charge of how it’s done now! If you’re going to marry this woman, you’ll need to throw your parents a cursory “I’m gay, btw.” Their reaction won’t change anything — you’ll still be with your person, you’ll still be you and have your job and your favorite pants and plans next weekend — they’ll just know more about who you are.
Doing it via text isn’t cowardly, by the way. There are plenty of things I’d rather text to someone than say to their face, and since texting is an option, let it be your option.
Dear style goddesses, please help. I have very very long straight almost to my waist hair. I love it but it doesn’t read as gay. I really don’t want short hair or a more andro look — I want long femme hair but I want it to look gay. Helllllp!
Ok here’s what I think! I think when you have long hair and you want to ping, you sometimes have to gay up the other parts of your look. What does that mean, gaying up your look? I don’t know because I don’t know what you look like, and I think gaying shit up isn’t always universal. But listen, when you see someone with an extremely gay haircut (whatever you consider that to be) and the rest of their look reads straight, don’t you find it nearly impossible to believe they’re straight, because hello their hair is so gay?? Maybe if you can’t find a haircut that you really want, you can focus on gaying the living daylights out of one or more other things about your look. This is just me thinking out loud!
Readers: tell this person how to cut her hair!!
I recently (3 months) started seeing someone. She’s really fantastic, and we usually spend time together doing outdoorsy stuff in athletic attire. I like so many things about her, but she doesn’t dress well in non-athletic attire at all, which is very unattractive to me (think the type of shirt that your mom put you in for the 6th grade Christmas concert). I feel incredibly shallow for even thinking this, but is there anything I can say to her without hurting her feelings?
There probably isn’t a way to say something without hurting her feelings. You might have to do the thing straight women do to their boyfriends, which is to just start buying her the clothes you want her to wear and never give up and deny it if she calls you out. Or, if she ever asks for your input on an outfit, GIVE IT. Give it gently but like, give it. Three months is pretty damn early in a relationship though, so it’s probably best to either break up with her or else accept the fact that she dresses a certain way and that it has nothing to do with you because she’s her own person.
Recently my sexual desires have increased (getting my mental health together after struggling for years has helped), but I find myself uncomfortable with the new sexual side of my attraction towards women. Before I always found myself primarily attracted to non-sexualized things (intellect, hair, way women gesture as they talk, etc.) but now I’m noticing bodies in a way I had never done before in relation to women in real life.
This feels wrong and I cannot tell if it is internalized homophobia that is making me feel like expressions of my sexuality are predatory or if I am being a good feminist by not “objectifying women.” I immediately avert my gaze if I feel eyes lingering on a woman (even if my attraction is returned). Can you help explain why I felt comfortable with my attraction towards women when it was primarily non-sexual?
Sexual desire is a wily thing that usually has to compete with societal pressures and the shame we’ve been taught since birth. It sounds like you’re dealing with internalized homophobia. Having sexual feelings about certain body parts isn’t objectifying. Unless you’re looking at women as things devoid of emotions or needs and that only exists so you can motorboat their boobs, you’re not objectifying them. Have you read our roundtable on internalized homophobia? You’re definitely not alone (hello hi right there with you) and it does take work to unlearn all the things we were taught about how we should feel when we look at or even think about women and their bodies.
Sooo I am madly in love with this incredible woman, and we have been dating for almost a year now (!!). We took things pretty slow because even though we’re both about to graduate from college, this is the first serious relationship either of us has had with a woman (or anyone, for that matter). Anyways, we had sex for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was great and scary and vulnerable and wonderful and so many things. However, I was not as …into giving oral as I thought I would be. It was a bit weird and overwhelming and I’m sure it was just because it was a new thing, but of course I panicked that I wasn’t “good” at being a gay lady, or worse, not even gay at all. BUT I know that I love my girlfriend (and find her very attractive), so that panic has (luckily) subsided. Any tips on improving/not being intimidated by oral sex?
We’re working on a 101 that will hopefully answer this question (and many others)! But let me just shout from this very cramped desk in the suburbs just southeast of Phoenix, Arizona: YOU ARE STILL SUPER GAY.
I’m 24 and never had sex. How do I get out of my head long enough to stop being scared that any girl I like will reject me or want someone more experienced? I’m generally quite confident but here I have none at all.
Hi I’m going to share something with you which is that I, a 37 year old who has had sex for what like 22 years or something, STILL occasionally get in my head before / during / after the sex. It’s a skill, getting out of your head. It’s an honest to goodness skill. Even if you’d had sex with 300 different people, you’d still be having sex with the next person for the first time, which would involve a lot of trying things out and communicating about what worked or didn’t, and learning new things! If the person is worth liking and they like you back and things are COOL and FUN, your virginity shouldn’t be an issue. Every new person is a wild experiment and it’s weird and fun and nobody knows how it’s gonna go but you have to get OUT out out of your head head head. YOU’RE DOING GREAT.
Long story, so here we go: I’m two months from graduating from uni, and have got really close to one of my teachers (she’s 4 years older and is a grad teacher, but isn’t involved in any of my exams/assessment for context) who, lord knows, has helped me so much with coming out this past year. She has a long term girlfriend, and they’re in a kinda open relationship (only threesomes) – basically, we kissed the other night (after a night out), but she can’t tell her girlfriend until after I graduate. I really really like her – I’m trying so fucking hard not to because I really don’t want to put her in an awkward position (job and relationship-wise), and I just don’t know what to do! Her and her gf have been like big gay sisters to me – and she (teacher) has made it super clear that I’m more than welcome for a threesome (which I wouldn’t say no to)…. Please help before I make terrible life decisions!
It’s weird that she did something with you that she knew she wouldn’t be able to tell her girlfriend about. That’s got kind of a cheatery vibe, right? Anyway feels like a small red flag that I’d be remiss not to mention! And to answer what I think is your question, I truly believe that you can keep almost anything tamped down for two months. Just keep it tamped the fuck down, ok? Just chill out BE COOL. Cool it. If you’re invited to a threesome after graduation, great, neat, sounds good I guess. If not, also fine. We are chill as fuck over here. Everything is cool. We’re not getting anyone fired or putting ourselves in a position to be blamed for a breakup or a fight or whatever. We’re just over here, finishing up uni, thinking about how we can be better versions of ourselves, better citizens of the universe if you will, making sure we’ve got our shit together before graduation etc.
I need help. When I was in my early 20s, I dated a few men, even some long-term, but never slept with them. I told them (and convinced myself) I was saving myself for religious reasons, even though the real reason why is I didn’t want to have sex with a boy.
Around the time I started coming out, I was also very depressed. During the time in college/post college when everyone was experimenting and hooking up, I was dealing with crippling depression and anxiety. I didn’t date or hook up with anyone, nor did I try. I barely even left my house. (I’ve since gotten treatment for my depression and I’m an entirely different person).
The only two girls who I had the opportunity to have sex with, I decided it was fair to be honest and tell them it would be my first time, and they got weird about it and ghosted. Both of them were old friends turned crushes.
I’m almost 30, and the past few years, I’ve gone on dozens of first dates, rarely a second, never a third. I’m just extremely unlucky I guess, and haven’t met anyone I wanted to meet up with again (I’m not being too picky-I’ve gone on so many weird first dates I could write a book).
So anyway, here’s my question: how do I let women know I’m a little anxious about sex because of my lack of experience without freaking them out? I’m definitely not a prude-the timeline of my life events just worked out that relationships/sex were not a priority in my early 20s and somehow now I’m 30 and a virgin which I’m embarrassed about. There seems to be this stigma that I’m weirdly religious or weirdly unattractive, or that I’m going to be clingy and emotionally attached to the first woman I have sex with (the first two aren’t true, and I doubt the third one is).
So please give me advice. I’ve gone on a couple casual dates with a someone I really like, and I’m afraid she’s going to run as soon as it’s time for this conversation. How do I be less anxious about sex? How do I explain that I just want someone to know they should be a little patient with me the first time, but it’s not A Really Big Deal? How do I even approach this topic without me getting embarrassed and her freaking out? And when do I even bring something like this up? Please help.
Yeah all these women need to do is just ask like, “Hey so if we do have this sex, are you going to be in love with me or cry or then tell me you’re straight or something?” so you could be like, “Nah man, I just wanted to give you the ol’ heads up that the first time we have sex won’t be in a dimly lit coffee shop bathroom or whatever. I’m gonna need it to be a little more chill than that.” and then THEY could be like, “Cool I am nothing if not chill. Let’s go get some bespoke soda and talk about our favorite books!”
But let me back up a bit and suggest that you don’t bring up the virgin thing until you’re sure that sex will be on the horizon — the sparks are flying, you are grooving on each other like it’s 1977, etc. — but I don’t mean like while you’re making out ahead of the impending sex. Maybe bringing it up on the second date is leading them to believe that it’s a bigger deal to you than it actually is. I have a whole caravan of matter-of-fact things about me that require some gentle patience and care, like I will definitely need to hysterically cry (probably while sitting on the floor) about my dead father sometime in the next six months at any given time, but I wouldn’t talk about my dead father on a second date unless we were very sloppy drunk and I was ovulating. Does this make sense? I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep this week.
Anyway that’s my advice! Don’t bring it up on the second date and wait until you have reason to believe that sex is a thing y’all will want to do eventually. By this time you’ll hopefully know each other a little better and you’ll have already made it clear that you’re not gonna move into their house the morning after you have sex.
I began dating this woman over Christmas – she’s clever, funny, driven, independent, athletic, confident – and I thought it was going GREAT and heading toward a real relationship. Fairly out of the blue, she tells me she has fun when we hang out and wants to continue but doesn’t want anything serious and wants to keep things casual. I was surprised I’d been interpreting things incorrectly. I said “OK” because January is long, cold and alcohol-free, so, I do want some fun! With the caveat that if either of our feelings change then we’ll need to adapt.
Do I take what she has said sincerely? Or, is it more likely she’s just got a bit freaked out and maybe needs some time to cool off? Help me, I wear my heart on my god damned sleeve.
P.S. This has been a pattern over the past year, I am wondering if I’m doing something wrong…?
Always always take what she says sincerely! Even if you think she just got freaked out, be determined to live in the world that is actually playing out in front of you, which is the one where she doesn’t want anything serious and wants to keep it casual. HAVE FUN in that world! That world is so fun omg. Alternatively if it’s actually NOT fun for you there, you should go ahead and close up shop. Wanting more than someone can or will give is usually a fucking bummer, and it’s super within reason to put an end to things that fucking bum you out.
If you’re having fun, have fun and don’t let your imagination/hopes run away with you. If you’re not having fun, end it.
P.S. You’re not doing anything wrong! The people you’re dating just happen to be in a place where they don’t want anything serious. It’s the same as if everyone you’ve dated was super into brownies and you’re more of a sherbet fan — you’re not wrong and neither are they, you just have incompatible dessert desires. YOU’RE GREAT.
I’ve been very casually dating/hooking up with someone for a few months now. We have a lot of fun together and have terrific chemistry, and I have a crush on them (which they know). What’s complicated is that only about a month before we started hooking up, their partner of two years had unexpectedly broken up with them and completely broke their heart, so now they’re feeling very emotionally unavailable. We’ve been upfront about our respective feelings from the beginning, but it is still sometimes difficult for me to want more than they can give.
Ultimately I would like to try actually dating them, but they’ve said it’s going to be a long time before they’re ready for that with anyone, and we’re both seeing other people right now. I’ve done a lot of personal work to be fine with continuing this situation, but I also haven’t seen them alone for about a month and I just don’t know how they’re feeling about everything. And to top everything off – we work together. Not in the same program, but the same organization. So that is something that I’m taking into consideration when I think about our potential future – the fact that I have to be able to see this person every so often in a professional setting and not freak out, regardless of our history and current situation.
The subject line of your question was “Unsure what’s happening” but the body of this message suggests that you do know what’s happening and that you don’t like it. If you want more from them than they’re able to give right now, and the current setup is painful or upsetting for you, you should end things and heal from that disappointment and move on. You have so much to give and be and do and you should be giving being doing all of them in ways that make you HAPPY and not miserable or freaking out. It’s beyond OK to not be fine with continuing this situation, so don’t go trying to be a version of yourself that you’re not just so you can keep casually hooking up with someone who doesn’t want to be emotionally available to you. That is the first act of a romcom when we’re waiting for the protagonist to meet the person she’s actually going to end up with.
I’m poly and bi and in a long term relationship with an awesome dude. I was dating a bit and it was ok and then my dad got really sick (had a debilitating stroke nearly a year ago). My partner is super supportive and he and I spend a lot of our free time visiting my dad and helping calm down the various family members and caretakers.
Since this happened, I have been way less interested in dating and sex in general and I feel drained a lot, and I miss pursuing my new queer interests, but I’m also just not feeling up for it. It seems like this may just be how things are for a while, but maybe this attitude is apathetic? When I try to take time for myself on weekends I feel selfish and like a neglectful daughter. Do you have any advice for someone trying to balance caretaking with having a life and being a happy person?
Aaaaah I want to run to your house with your favorite sandwich and a large banner that reads WHAT YOU’RE FEELING IS SUPER NORMAL BUT ALSO YOU SHOULD TAKE VERY GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF I LOVE YOU and also a pocketful of jellybeans because last night I put some jellybeans in the front pocket of my denim shirt and not only did I feel like a grandpa but also I kept remembering they were there at the best possible moments, and I bet you could use a very convenient and well-timed dose of jellybeans.
Taking care of other people at this level — I’m speaking from the experience of having two babies but most relatably I lived with my terminally ill grandmother until her death — is exhausting. You feel like you’re living in a bubble that’s so thick that you can only see what’s right in front of you while everything in the distance blurs together and you wonder if you’ll ever know it again. And while this is absolutely the norm, it’s not a sustainable one. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish and doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your father. You have to give yourself breaks to do the things that are comforting and/or energizing, otherwise you’re going to break.
Instead of trying to do the exact same things you used to — you mention dating, sex, and pursuing queer interests — do versions of them for a while. It can be incredibly frustrating to be in that bubble trying to have the exact same kind of fun you know you’ve had before, but not being able to enjoy it like you used to. You’ll compare this time to those other times and no, they won’t measure up, and you’ll feel even more defeated and distant than you did before. Tweak your usual fun things so they’re just slightly different but still in the same spirit — like instead of one-on-one dates, go with a group (or solo) to a trivia night, or fuck it, go crazy and instead of seeing a movie at night, go to a museum in the morning. Just do something for yourself, and if any guilty feelings pop up, slam them in the face with a frying pan.
Also don’t be afraid to schedule some therapy!
I’m in my 20s and I was dating this girl for about two months last year, but then she broke it off with me because she’s not in the dating mindset right now. I’ve given her space and I’ve desperately tried to move on, but I really like her and I can’t help but feel like she’s The One. I just have this strong feeling. Should I wait for her to be ready to date again?
She is probably not The One. I don’t know you and therefore I have the luxury of being very blunt when I say that you have to move on and you should never ever wait for anyone! YOU COULD BE HIT BY A BUS FULL OF EVANGELICAL HOMOPHOBES ON THEIR WAY TO A CANDLE-MAKING SEMINAR TOMORROW and your last days of life will have been spent waiting for a woman who broke up with you months ago after dating for all of seven or eight weeks! NO I WILL NOT ALLOW IT. Get out there and L I V E.
I am a high school junior who has had a major crush on her best friend (who now lives halfway across the country) for four years. I recently found out that aforementioned best friend likes me back. This would be great, if not for her parents’ homophobia, our inability to properly discuss our feelings, and the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing.
Can our scintillating literature-based phone calls and mutual exchange of poetry transcend our physical distance, my insecurity/social anxiety, and her occasional aloofness? Is the way we feel right now worth any potential pain?
You should keep doing what you’re doing until it isn’t fun anymore, and then very gently but firmly stop doing it. It’s fun to have a crush who crushes you back and it’s also weirdly fun for it to be a little dramatic and pining and constrained for a while, but if things can’t progress out of either of those states — crushing without fulfillment and the low-key constrained drama — the fun will always and absolutely end, I’m sorry to say.
Is there a right way to do rebound dating? I’m not over my ex but I like the girl I’m dating right now. But I feel guilty that I haven’t told her that I’m still in love with my ex (who might want to get back together with me at some point). Or am I just a terrible person?
Hm. The right way to do rebound dating is probably the same thing as the right way to do any dating, which is that you should be honest and respectful. If you’ve been reading the other questions in this post you’ve seen that many, many people like to begin seeing people “casually” when they’re “not in the right mindset for a relationship” or not “totally over their ex” and you will have also noticed that this has felt like a slap in the face for many people who thought they were definitely headed for a relationship. So while I definitely don’t think you’re a terrible person, I do think you should let people know FROM THE JUMP that you’re keeping shit casual for now, just looking for an activity partner to hang out with, maybe do some rock climbing; definitely not looking to settle down with them. Then if and when those people break things off with you because I told them they had permission to look for someone who is in a relationship mindset, please be supportive and understanding of that and don’t make it harder for them than it already will be.
There’s a girl I think I like. I think she likes me. Should I do something about it?
Look I made you this t-shirt:
I recently had to travel, and didn’t see my girlfriend for about a month. I came back a few days ago and things feel different! It feels like she’s a little less genuine or that our relationship isn’t as emotionally deep! She says she had to pull back a bit over the month in order to not feel bad all the time. Makes sense but feels awful! Any advice?
This will probably pass pretty quickly if you both keep doing things that are good for relationships, like talking, sharing meals, having fun, not dwelling on the past, laughing at videos of pandas falling out of trees, etc. If it doesn’t pass within a week or two, you should be like HEY WHAT’S GOING ON, ANGELA. FEELS LIKE YOU’RE NOT PUTTING MUCH EFFORT INTO COZYING BACK UP WITH ME IN THIS RELATIONSHIP BLANKET. It really shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to get back on track after being apart for a while.
I’ve lately realized I am gay, kinda late in life (been married twice to men). Currently I have no interest in a relationship as I would rather concentrate on school and other things. Yet it seems important to me to realize that I am not straight. Should I come out to others? Or, since I don’t want a relationship anyway, would it just be attention whoring?
It is important that you realized that you’re not straight! And fuck YES you should come out to others! YOU ARE SO GAY you should definitely talk about it. And if someone accuses you of attention whoring that person can kiss your ass.
Y’All Need Help is a biweekly advice column in which I pluck out a couple of questions from the You Need Help inbox and answer them right here, round-up style, quick and dirty! (Except sometimes it’s not quick, but that’s my prerogative, OK?) You can chime in with your own advice in the comments and submit your own quick and dirty questions any time.