Hello Doctor, I have been an avid reader of your blog for a few years and have finally mustered the courage to ask for advice. I really enjoy the laidback approach to answering some really serious matters, and the fact that you provide pictures of cute animals when things get really serious or disgusting. And of course the nerd culture references, especially anime references.
I have a question about relationships, especially the early stages.
That dopamine and oxytocin rush, that joy of discovering a new person and getting to know them, the excitement of exploring new bodies and new tastes in bed, the passion and effortless joy of early romance. All great. I love that.
And yes, everyone is putting on their best face at the start, but as things continue in this mould and we discover each other’s quirks and start to open ourselves up to each other more, it often feels like a punishment at best or a cruel joke at worst.
Because all that good stuff I mentioned at the start goes. Sometimes I get dumped, but not always. But certainly everything I love in the first paragraph is taken away — the big pyjamas replace the sexy lingerie; instead of discovering new things about each other, we settle into watching the TV we both like on sofa together; instead of romantic dinners, it turns into taking turns cooking of the same set of a few dozen meals, and so on.
As opposed to “effortless joy”, things move into the “routine warmth” mode. And whilst rationally I want to be satisfied with that, the relationship at that point often feels just like “good friends/housemates with occasional sex on the side”, and I find myself getting so very bored and wanting to get out and date again to get some novelty and excitement back in my life.
My friends have often told me that this is “real love” compared with infatuation, and it can be so much more fulfilling than the honeymoon period, but I don’t understand how at all. It feels to me like some cruel joke of attraction. Now, like I said, rationally, having a good friend and a housemate and a sexual partner all wrapped up in one person is clearly a good thing, but GOD, it’s dull and so much worse than the “honeymoon” period. I even tried long-distance relationships, where I hoped that only seeing each other two days a month meant that we would “use up” that budget of excitement slower, and “the good bit” would last longer (spoiler: it didn’t. I never said it was a great plan, but I’m running out of ideas!)
So how do I learn to accept that things will always turn dull in the long run, and not yearn for a new person, a new set of interests and drives, a new body, a new life, to discover and explore to get that “effortless joy” back?
Hello Dr NerdLove,
I have been reading your articles for a few years and used to be one of the haters until a year or two ago. You have helped me a lot already in coming to terms with whom I should be.
However, to get to what I want to ask about: how do I make friends during this time of COVID-19?
So scenario, in 2018 I (male, 30) moved to a new country for work and met my then GF (we will call V) only 3 months after moving. I had zero connections in the city, and where I work either people are very socially isolated (Not negatively, can’t think of an appropriate word) or were in very strong cliques to begin with. This makes it hard to get in with people and even then I am not a person who invests in people. I’m trying to work on this although it is hard to change nature.
I met my girlfriend though Bumble, where we hit it off right away. I was very invested in her, which is something I don’t normally do. The real rub of this was that she was my first GF that lasted more than 3 dates. From there, it was very typical until the Big C came. One day the stress got too much, and an argument erupted and this time I let slip that I would like a family. Even to this day I have no idea why I said it. I had decided to take up counselling and try and make repairs to my mental health. After that argument, 2 weeks had passed and she returned from seeing friends and family . Then that is when we split up. We both agreed that this was best for us and it went by a well as a break up can be.
However, I had no choice but to live with V, as I had nowhere to go absolutely nowhere. This made realized that I fucked up big time and I felt so guilty and ashamed that I had to stay at her place until I could find my own.
I’m all settled into a new place, the pain is still lingering from time to time but it is a scar I’m glad to have. However, I need to build a much stronger support network for myself if I am to ever survive during this COVID-19 time. I have family and a best friend back home, but they are 8+ hours ahead of me. How can I make more friends if I can’t go out or do social activities?
Love In The Time Of COVID
My girlfriend and I are 60+ years old. We are both concerned about getting the COVID virus. We have separate homes and practice social distancing when we spend time together. My question has to do with sex. We do not kiss, massage, have intercourse, oral sex or manual sex at all now. I think we could safely use our hands to manually give each other orgasms. She thinks this could not be done safely. I think with masks and hand sanitizer we could enjoy it safely. It has been four months of abstinence and thinking of possibly a year or longer seems too long. Are their safe options to give each other orgasms?
Hard Up in Hanover
Doctor’s Note: Today’s column deals with trans issues and trans identities. Because of the nature of the topic I will be riding hard on the comments. Misunderstandings and sincere attempts to learn are understandable. Misgendering, perpetuating negative propaganda about trans people and general TERF bullshit will mean getting the banhammer.
Dear Dr. NerdLove:
My husband and I were each other’s “first” and now we have 2 kids and 15 years together. Over the last several months he has started exploring a more androgynous gender presentation, and a few weeks ago we had a long heart-to-heart in which he told me he wants to see a therapist who could help him sort out how to possibly transition to living as a woman. I’m pansexual (although it’s always been a moot point until now) and I will love him no matter how he identifies or dresses. If it makes him happy, I’m all for it.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is that we live in a deeply conservative part of the US and I can predict with 99.9% certainty that transitioning here would/will SUCK. His parents won’t understand, he just started a new job at a place that’s almost entirely cishet white men with beards, our kids will have a harder time at school, etc. Obviously transitioning would/will be a huge step and not one we could come back from.
My question: what can I do to support him finding what he needs? I have no problem telling his dad where to shove his “jokes” and our immediate circle of friends would be fine, but every time I think about how much crap he would/will have to face, it makes me feel sick. He hasn’t decided yet how much he wants to change (clothes? body? pronouns?) but trans/nonbinary people are all but invisible around here. I’d be happy to go out guns a-blazing but obviously it’s not about me and I don’t know how to prepare to be the supportive partner he’ll need.