It’s the second weekend of spring cleaning the You Need Help inbox and BOY ARE MY ARMS TIRED. Just like Part 1, I’ve numbered each question and answer to make it easier for you to talk about them in the comments! Please feel free to do any/all of the following:
-disagree with my advice
-talk about yourself as it relates to the question
-make a perfect graphic
-attach links to better advice
-share your favorite cookie recipes for the heartbroken
Here’s an update from a previous advice seeker and I’m sorry to say, it’s not a happy one. It sucks and I wish I could send them a brontosaurus balloon and a bag of pineapples. ? But! How great is it that we all have each other during shit like this? PRETTY FCKING GREAT.
You printed my question in December in which I asked, “Is it normal or ok for my girlfriend to keep reminding me that she doesn’t know if she wants to be with me in the future?” [Y’All Need Help #17 Q3] and I just want to follow up. Despite everyone’s advice, I kept dating said girl (also despite constant fear that she would break up with me), and probably to no one else’s surprise, she just broke up with me. In the future, I plan to take the autostraddle community’s advice more seriously. Thank you all for your warnings though!
-naive and heartbroken
I thought my girlfriend and I would get married and we would have kids with her pretty curly hair and I would watch the lines around her eyes get all cute and wrinkly. But instead she broke up with me unexpectedly and I’m past the point of caring if I cry in public. So, like, what should I do? Any advice would be very much appreciated as my cat doesn’t have the emotional intelligence I thought she had.
There’s a pretty comprehensive list of breakup advice down there in A8, but I reached out to a writer who’s recently gone through the very same thing, and here’s what she says:
all i can say is when we decide to love someone, to make the decision to go all in, we open ourselves up to the possibility of this very thing, the opposite of what we’d planned. you have to accept that grief is part of the process, give yourself some time, be gentle with yourself, and know deep down that their leaving isn’t a reflection on you, it’s them.
Time time time, is the thing. It takes a lot of time. Keep talking to your cat and going out in public. You’re more resilient than you think.
I’m an out lesbian in my early 20s with a very straight best friend whose enthusiasm for my gayness is becoming grating, verging on offensive. For example, when she introduces me to new people, the fact that I’m “the huge lesbian one” comes up almost immediately, whether it’s relevant or not — so I become one-dimensionally just The Big Homo to mutual friends. I can’t make passing eye contact with a woman on the train without her saying “omg you should fuck her.”
Recently, I was visiting her in the major European capital where she’s studying, and when I mentioned wanting to go to the gay district/bars, she jumped at the chance to “be my wingman” so I could “fuck so many girls.” Notwithstanding the fact that I don’t particularly want an obnoxious, unsubtle, boy-crazy wingman, I didn’t know how to politely tell her that the few gay bars that are left are temporary places of refuge from straight people, I would feel uncomfortable with her there, and I would rather go alone.
Lately I feel like a zoo animal on display, like being a lesbian makes me a crazy wild child who she can carry around for cool edgy social cred. (FWIW, almost everyone else in our friend group is bi or pan, and they don’t seem to get this treatment.) She’s anxious and easily wounded, and I’m worried that if I bring this up it’ll end with her sobbing that she’s an awful friend and I should just never speak to her again. I know she thinks that she’s being super accepting by acting like this and showing off how “okay” she is with same-sex relationships, but it makes me feel like a porn category, not a person. How to I tell her to piss off and let me be gay in peace without sounding like a mean, bitter dyke?
She’s projectinggggg !!!
Practical advice-wise, if she really is your best friend, you have to tell her that the way she acts re: you being gay is embarrassing to everyone involved, mostly her, and it’s not OK. You’re well within your rights as a not-mean, not-bitter dyke to let someone know when they’re being incredibly rude, and you should do that! Your best friend would want to know if they were making you this uncomfortable, and moreover they’d want to FIX IT. Try to come up with an analogy that contextualizes your point through her own experiences, and if she protests that you’re being too [whatever], she’s not your best friend.
Also she reallllly wants to sleep with you byeeeeee!
Me and my girlfriend are each others first and only partners (we’re in our early 20’s). Everything has been great so far, except for one thing that bothers me a little. We have very different fingers! My hands and fingers are very small, and hers are quite a bit bigger than average. She doesn’t feel any discomfort during sex even with her hymen being intact. As for me, our first sex did hurt, then it was much better, but even two fingers sometimes seemed like too much, and now when we haven’t done it for quite a while (we’re in LDR), I fear it’s going to start all over again in terms of pain and trying to figure out how to make things better. So, my point is: I love being penetrated, and I want to make it easier, even if it means letting go of my hymen (unfortunately, it didn’t break yet). I don’t have enough guts to break it by myself, so maybe I could ask my girlfriend to do that for me… but what exactly should I ask her to do? I don’t want to resort to sex toys yet. Thank you so much for your help :)
I reached out to a real lesbian gynecologist and here’s what she had to say:
The hymen isn’t really something that you need to break. It’s a stretchy membrane that sort of separates the vulva from the vagina and runs circumferentially around the vaginal opening. In the vast majority of women this membrane stretches. Occasionally this membrane covers more or less of the vagina. If it’s more, sometimes you might start having pain when you first have sex. On a small percent of women there are bands of tissue connecting one side to the opposite side. This is called a septate hymen. An even smaller percent have hymens that totally cover the vagina except for a few holes. This is called a cribform hymen. And an even tinier percent have a hymen that completely covers the vaginal opening. This is called an imperforate hymen. Except for an imperforate hymen (which will cause menstrual blood to backflow into the uterus and body) none of these will harm your health, but they will make sex more uncomfortable.
I recommend anyone who is having pain with sex to see their gynecologist. If she has a septate or cribform hymen she will be able to tell right away. She may even be able to tell if there is just more hymen in one area making sex uncomfortable. We often resection these hymens in a very small procedure/surgery called a hymenectomy. I did one just two days ago. A hymenectomy isn’t for everyone, but if the opening is so small someone can’t fit tampons in or have sex the way they want to, it might be a good idea for some women. Other women find that slow dilation of the openings they do have with either good quality silicone dilatory (or even bigger and bigger tampons) is more their style.
The most important thing is that you are having pain with sex to see your gynecologist. Most of the time this isn’t from the hymen but from the muscles. Pelvic floor spasm (aka vaginismus) comes in varying degrees and from various causes. Often one of the ways that vaginismus occurs is by continuing to have sex when you have pain. The body learns to tighten up to brace for pain… which just makes pain worse.
ARE LESBIAN GYNECOLOGISTS THE BEST OR WHAT.
I’ve been in a relationship with my S.O. for six years. We’re polyam, and over the past few months I’ve started to have sex with other people in a non-group setting (ie, my S. O. was not there) for the first time. I always thought that I had a low sex drive or was somewhere on the ace spectrum, but after starting to have sex with women (trans and cis), I realized that I’m just not attracted to men. I was on the verge of breaking up with my partner when they came out to me as nonbinary. It still doesn’t change my lack of physical attraction to them, but I’m afraid that if I tell them, it will come off like I’m not respecting their gender identity. Am I being transphobic? Do I need to re-evaluate my internalized perceptions and prejudices? What do I do???
I hesitate to give you really quick advice about this, especially because six years is a pretty long time and I can only imagine how tangled up your lives are in each other’s, but! Here’s some hasty advice from someone who doesn’t know you: you should break up with your partner! Not because you’re not attracted to men, but because you’re not attracted to them.
Breaking up with someone is GARBAGE even when you want to do it — it’s garbage all the way around! It’s not easy and it’s stupid and painful and fucked up and just exactly like being dropped onto a brand new planet where everyone else is acting like things are extremely normal and fine but you know that they aren’t. Breaking up is also part of being together, the same way dying is part of living LISTEN I’M NOT EVEN ON MY PERIOD THIS IS JUST HOW DARK THIS ADVICE POST IS GONNA BE.
You’re not being transphobic, this isn’t about internalized prejudices or a lack of respect. This is about you being honest about what you want, and it sounds like what you want is a woman. AND THAT’S FINE. It’s legal and fine.
I am going to A-Camp for the first time ever!!! I am so excited and I have been reading all the re-camps, looking at all the pics, and just looking at the A-Camp website in general a LOT. Every day is passing too slowly and I don’t know how to speed it up to just be at the camp already! All of my straight friends are tired of me talking about it and my queer friends are at A-Camp in the future waiting for me to meet them because I don’t have any yet! What do you guys do to pass the time while waiting for the time to come?
!!! I am so excited for you and everyone else coming to A-Camp for the first time ever this year!!! When we were packing up and leaving the mountain after our very first A-Camp in 2012, I was sobbing — not because I thought I’d never see my friends and coworkers again, and not because I thought there wouldn’t be another one, but because I knew there’d never ever be another one like that one. And I’ve cried every single year since then! For the same reason! We get to live in a world that we make for ourselves there, and it’s not perfect but damn it, it’s ours.
Which is a long way of saying — to you and all new A-Campers and queers going on first dates and people making their first strawberry rhubarb pie and and and and — that it’s already yours and I hope you have SO MUCH FUN.
I think I speak for everyone at Autostraddle when I say that we pass the time by panicking about what we’ll wear and which snacks we’ll need to buy on the way.
Hey, I live in a communal situation. Can I use antimicrobial gel to clean my silicone sex toys in my room, or will the alcohol fuck with the silicone? Will antimicrobial gel get them clean enough? Any other suggestions short of, like, bringing a bucket of water to my room and washing them in it?
Carolyn Yates, our Sex Editor who has ridiculously good hair, says that alcohol-based antimicrobial cleaners are safe for silicone toys! Also though if you just want to keep buying things in this world LOOK WHAT I FOUND FOR YOU.
Oh boy here we go… So. I’ve identified as queer/bisexual forever, but I’ve only dated one woman and the relationship was abusive and deeply traumatic. It kind of scared me off of dating women for a couple years, so three years later here I am engaged to a cis man. Except now I’m questioning whether I want to be with a cis man at all. I can’t stop thinking about women, I fantasize about women during sex, I daydream about a “someday” in the future when I’ll get to be with a woman, even though in reality I’m supposed to be marrying this man. But I still love him, deeply, and wish that I had no doubts about spending the rest of my life with him. But these feelings have been here for a year, and I don’t think they’re going to go away no matter how hard I try to suppress them. What the fuck do I do?
Do not marry this man. You don’t want to and you shouldn’t make a commitment that you don’t want to make. When I was married to a man and thinking I was straight but fantasizing about women during sex and daydreaming about a “someday,” that daydream relied on him eventually leaving me. Think about that for a second.
Do not marry this man.
I’m a baby queer going through my first breakup. What are your best queer breakup tips? We are friends and everything is ostensibly fine but, you know, ouch.
Ok are you ready? Get ready.
The Best Break-Up Advice You’ll Ever Get
Where Does the Good Go? A Break-Up Open Thread
The Lifespan of a Lesbian Heartbreak
A Playlist for When You Break Up in Autumn
Top 10 Special Weirdo Things I’ve Done Since My Very First Break-Up
Playlist: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
So Your First Girlfriend Broke Your Heart — Now What?
Playlist: It Was Time to Go
? ? ? ?
Any advice on how to make space to have friends/try to date while super overwhelmed? Like everyone else I’m working all 158 hours a week trying to change the world, learn new things, build a resume that will get me a job, but I’m absolutely miserable because I have no friends, and I’m not dating, and sometimes I’m not sure why I’m doing all of this because I am just so miserable, but it doesn’t feel like I can stop doing anything that I’m doing. How do I have time for a life when I have no time for anything?
You are burning out and you have to stop or something terrible will happen! It’ll probably mean giving up something you’re working on/towards to make time for other things — like rest, relaxation, interacting with the rest of the world — but you have to do it. I SAY THIS BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT YOU. Make the time for yourself because if you don’t literally no one else can or will.
I’m nearly 30 and only came out a few years ago. I am coping with depression, I struggle with alcohol dependency, and I’m still undecided on what I want my career to look like. I don’t really know how to date or be in a relationship. (Longest I’ve been in was a few months, and it was pretty aloof.)
Obviously I’m not just a bundle of negative traits. I have a good job, it’s just not something I want to do forever; I have passions, and I’m pretty good at following through on fulfilling them; I’m in therapy for my drinking and depression and it’s going pretty well; I’m mature, thoughtful, kind, funny, creative, supportive, enthusiastic, and humble enough to feel weird listing my good qualities like this. I really want someone in my life who can joke with me and support me, who I can touch and tell them I love them and hear it back. I want someone who I look forward to seeing every day, who I want to hear stories from, whose opinions I trust, who would be willing to build a life with me. I’m lonely and this all seems so nice.
But I also feel like I’m not there yet. I’m sure I could bring something to a relationship, but would I be enough, or would I be dragging some wonderful person down? And I’m not sure if these feelings of insecurity are me being down on myself (yay depression), or just me being realistic about my current situation and the real struggles I am going through.
I was pursing dating/relationships basically as a part-time job from June-Nov 2017, but I cooled it off after the last person I dated because, in addition to us not being a good fit at all, I also felt incomplete, unfinished, like I wouldn’t compliment anyone so long as I had my main hang-ups (drinking and self-hate) still so prominent in my life. This is also when I started therapy. I don’t think it’s fair to drag some innocent person into my shit when I haven’t dealt with it. But also: everyone has shit in their lives, so am I being too self- critical? And, if I am being realistic about my depression/drinking and if I don’t ever get over these issues, do I really have to stay alone forever? At what point do I actually get to feel like I’ll be someone that another someone would want to be with?
Today! Today is the point when you actually get to feel like you’re someone that another someone would want to be with. TODAY. Even if you don’t start dating someone by this afternoon, today is still the day when you say OUT LOUD “I am someone that another someone would want to be with!!!!” because it is true.
I know that one of the deals of AA — which you have not said you’re participating in, but I’m using their guidelines as my guidelines because I don’t have any other ones to go by — is that you don’t start dating until you’ve been sober for a year. You take that whole year to focus on yourself and your recovery. So ok I just want to acknowledge this before I say what I’m gonna say next, which is that every single person, no matter how not-depressed or not-alcohol-dependent they are, has baggage that they bring to the relationship. Don’t be afraid of that. You’ll bring your depression and your drinking issues with you even if you have them under control because it’s your life! It’s what you’ve lived through and it shapes how you live now, and that’s cool and normal.
I’m so happy — I want to say proud but it always sounds so infantilizing to put it that way, but! — that you’re seeing a therapist and working on things! That is SUCH a huge fucking step in the right direction, massive. I hope you keep reminding yourself how much strength it takes to even schedule an appointment, much less go to the appointment and then make more and keep going and going! You are out here doing the damn work. Be impressed with yourself.
I brought your question up to my wife because we both also deal with depression and go back and forth between having it under control and super not having it under control, and I thought she’d have some wisdom. She did. She said you should get a dog.
I was alone for YEARS and so lonely. I was miserable. Everyone told me not to get a dog but I knew I needed one, so I went to the shelter and started taking some of the dogs out on walks. When I met Emily [her dog], she’d been in the shelter for weeks and was labeled Aggressive On Impound — she was a couple of days away from being euthanized and it was clear no one was coming to adopt her. When we went out for a walk, a guy came by and said, “Is that your dog?” and I said, “Not yet, maybe though.” He said, “You two look good together. She looks like your dog.” I used the money my grandmother had left me to adopt her that day. She ate everything in my house — the couch, my shoes, the miniblinds, the doors, the carpet. Bringing her home was the best decision I’ve ever made. I mean you were also a good decision but I love Emily so much.
From the mouths of babes, dear reader.