one of my best friends in the entire world is in an on-again-off-again toxic relationship, seriously I knew it was horrible and I read your article on toxic relationships and it fit him and his girl to a T.
I was afraid to show him the article since:
1. he already knows I can’t stand what she does to him
2. she hacks his email/facebook sometimes and if she sees that I send him this she’ll “forbid” that he talks to me, which might actually work for a while (she’s done it with other female friends of his a couple of times) and
3. I don’t want him to be mad at me when they inevitably make up.
Well I finally showed him the article two days ago since they broke up again and he’s miserable. I’m trying to convince him he’s a catch and way better off, but he can’t see that, no matter what I do, I’ve tried setting him up with my single lady friends, tried just sitting around having drinks, tried to just listen, and tried advice, nothing is working. Can you please give me a clue on how to get it through his skull or at least how to stop driving myself crazy about it?
– Life Preserver
It can be difficult when someone you care about is in a toxic – or even abusive – relationship; after all, your every instinct is going to be screaming for you to try to figure out how to pull them away for their own good. It can gnaw at you: why the hell can’t they see just how miserable they are and how horrible their partner is for them… and to them?!
And then when they do get out… well, they’re usually locked into something of a depressive spiral, one that often leads right back to the same relationship they were stuck in the last time around. After all, it may suck but at least it’s a suck you know.
Unfortunately, having been there myself, I can tell you that when someone’s finally made the decision to get out of a toxic relationship, there will be some lingering damage. When you’re dating a toxic assbag of a human being, you will often find that you’ve absorbed and internalized a lot of the abuse and started to blame yourself for everything that went wrong and it can take time to recover from that.
And that, I’m afraid, LP, is something your friend hasn’t had yet. Two days out of a bad relationship isn’t enough time to let the healing process work. He’s still wounded and raw from what the relationship has done to his self-esteem and his ego. He may benefit from talking to a professional if things are especially bad but what he needs the most right now is time and support.
The best thing you can do for him is to be there for him. Listening to him when he needs it, being a shoulder to cry or rest on if he needs one, these can all help… but don’t force him to pick at the still-healing wounds. He’s already neck deep in self-recrimination, what-if scenarios and trying to imagine what he could have done better or differently. Helping him to take his mind off his problems and remember that life is pretty good and he has friends who care for him will help far more than trying to rush the healing process by trying to force him to get over it or throwing him at relationships that he clearly isn’t ready for.
You’re a good friend to him, LP, but there’s only so much you can do. Be there for him when he needs you but be ready to give him some time and space too.
Dear Doctor Nerdlove(I feel very privileged to say those words!),
First off, I would have to say that I have found your site enlightening, inspirational, and, from my standpoint as a certified psychology nerd, very legit. OK, now to my question (actually it’s more like a discussion starter of sorts): What are your thoughts on age and dating?
I have not seen much talk of this on the site and wondered what you have to say about it. For instance, you may never be too old to find love, but what about too young to fall in love (can you hear the Motley Crue playing now…)?
What of a 20 year-old who is attracted to a 15 year-old, perhaps of equal maturity, but still 15 (we all know what society thinks of this, but, legal and cultural considerations aside, I just want your opinion)?
Or, like in Billy Joel’s case, being with someone 30 years younger than you?
And lastly, would you base such decisions off of maturity rather than actual age? As I mentioned, I was just curious regarding opinions on this subject(feel free to comment, everyone!).
That Russian Guy
Half your age + 7 is a good rule of thumb when it comes to age differences in dating. It keeps you within a range that actually expands as you get older but also helps stop from hitting uncomfortably creepy levels such as, say, Miley Cyrus dating a 21 year old underwear model when she was 15.
Maturity can make a difference, but only up to a certain point. On the one hand you have couples like Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Preven, who had a more than 30 year difference between them when they started dating but have been married for over 20 years. On the other hand, I don’t care how mature a 15 year old is (or how “old of a soul” he or she supposedly has or how “wise beyond their years” or “forced to grow up early” they are), their brains are still developing; they simply aren’t capable of making the same decisions as a 20 year old.
I was quite fortunate to happen upon your site when I did, as I was going through a very tumultuous breakup with someone who was living with (and essentially using) me. I haven’t quite scoured the entire archive, but I’ve been going through a lot of your past writings and they really helped me maintain my sanity and allay some really silly misconceptions that I had. (For instance, about women having all the power in relationships.) Thank you for all that you do to maintain this website. It really helped me sharpen my focus in a time where I needed to work on creating this idea of a world that I wanted.
I’ve had two partners over the past three years or so: the one that I already mentioned, and a long-distance relationship with a great girl that I could no longer maintain once it became clear we weren’t going to be together any time soon. During that time, I only orgasmed once due to female stimulation, and even that was with my hand wrapped around the base of my dick. I grew up with a father who had a very closed-minded attitude about sex, and learned to hide the fact that I was masturbating by literally using a blanket. So, you can see that dilemma: warm and wet versus rough and dry.
Once it became a problem with the lady I was living with, I started to take it a lot more seriously. (I wasn’t entirely sure if I was physically attracted to the long-distance woman.) Obviously this worried me a lot and I felt stupid and awkward about it. She thought it might be erectile dysfunction, but I’m pretty sure the stimulations and sensations were just entirely different. Anyway, after trying (and failing) to communicate openly about how I wanted sex to be with the home-ex, I withdrew a bit and spent a lot of time to myself working on wet rubs and condoms and all that on my own. She kind of took that the wrong way, and, as usual, wasn’t really up for any discussion about it or anything else once it was discovered that I was not perfect from the start. (I’m not bitter at all!)
I guess my question is: what is the best way for a single man to be “training” himself for the actual sensations of sex while masturbating? Is it just condoms? Is it condoms with lube? Do I need to spring for a Fleshlight or something equivalent to it? After reading a lot of your older posts I came to the conclusion that the right partner — one that actually communicates openly about this sort of thing — would solve a lot of self-inflicted angst and worries about mechanics and everything. But I would like to be as ready as I possibly can for this future woman, if that makes sense. (If it matters, I’m not closing myself down from actually meeting other women — I just need some time to decompress.)
First of all yes, the right partner makes all the difference. You want someone who’s going to be supportive and caring and willing to communicate with you, not someone who won’t discuss it or assumes that the problem means that you aren’t attracted to her.
Your problem, Ace, is that you’ve accustomed your penis to sensations that the human body can’t possibly match. This is actually much more common than you’d think; a lot of people discover masturbation by humping a pillow or a blanket or even the space between their mattress and box-spring. Other guys use what Dan Savage calls “the death grip”: gripping their penis so tightly in a way a mouth or a vagina or an anus simply can’t. As a result, having sex – whether oral, vaginal, manual or anal – with another person just isn’t going to produce the same level of tightness or friction that you’ve trained yourself into needing.
Fortunately, this condition can be corrected.
Unfortunately, it ain’t easy.
What you need to do is to retrain your penis, functionally carving a new and different groove into the part of your brain that says “this is what I need to get off.” The way you start this is through total deprivation. This means you have to give up masturbation in any form for at least two weeks. You want to basically starve your brain (and your junk) until you’re so desperate to get off that a stiff breeze might do the job. Then and only then do you start to masturbate again… but only once that week, and using as light a pressure as possible and a fair amount of lube. It’s only by starving yourself of sensation and letting the desire to get off grow to the point of desperation that you can really start to retrain yourself to respond to lighter pressure and different texture and sensation.
After another week of this desensitization training, you can move up to twice or even three times a week – but using different techniques and methods that are as close to actual sex as possible and again, as light as possible.
You don’t need a Fleshlight or any other masturbation device to do this, but it can help – not only are masturbation sleeves designed to feel more like a human body, but they also make it impossible to use a death-grip; you’re gripping the case, not your penis. If you’re worried about the (unfortunate, sex-negative) stigma that has been attached to Fleshlights, Sex Nerd Sandra had a lot of good things to say about the Tenga line of sex toys for men.Not only do they not resemble disembodied vulva, but they also don’t look like sex-toys to the casual viewer. You don’t run the risk of embarrassment or uncomfortable conversations if a less open-minded partner stumbles across them.