Every month our sexperts take questions from our readers. Read on for this month's dilemma.
I've been dating my SO for some time now. I’m happy but sometimes I have doubts, sexually and compatibly. Is having doubts normal? What isn't normal?
The Male View
How precious. This is a question that could only have come from the unblemished heart of a tender naïf raised on romcoms and fairy tales; someone with a notion of love that has all the authenticity and nuance of a young adult fiction novel based on lyrics from One Direction. Sure, those perfect unions you see in your favorite Disney film leave little room for doubt, but that's because with a 90-minute runtime already stuffed with talking animals and dancing cookware, there's no room to squeeze in that tense moment where the hero admits to the princess that he got HPV in college.
As John Fowles wrote, “Love is the mystery between two people, not the identity.” The entire point of love is pitching backwards down that dark precipice. The excitement comes from the unknown. If you're looking for certainty, toss romance off the cliff like baby Simba and settle on a life partner that has impressive metrics you can measure, like financial assets, apartment square meterage, and genies who can provide relationship counseling. It may lack the pizzazz of a relationship built on passion, but if you get bored you can always ask the genie to do his Robin Williams schtick.
Regarding the "doubts" you have sexually, I can only interpret that to mean you have yet to seal the deal, because it shouldn't be taking you longer than a few weekends to get an informed read of whether your partner is a Beast in the sack, or a Sleeping Beauty. My guess is that you have religious reasons for keeping things "G" rated. In that case, faith shouldn't be a new concept. Much like God, believing in your significant other requires faith—that they will be your hero and be honest about what happened in college.
The Female View
Don't ask what's "normal". “Normal" doesn't equal“happy," and a universally recognized definition of "normal”doesn't exist anyway. So first let's ask the right question: "How do you know what you want?" Now that's a tricky question—no one else can tell you the answer, often you're unsure, and you'll probably change your mind a lot. The journey to getting whatever it is that you want is a constant grappling in the dark. But you have to keep groping bravely ahead.
Keep a forward momentum in your life, always. Maintaining momentum means something different to everyone. For some, it's joining a fitness group or training for a marathon. For others it's taking up a new hobby, like calligraphy or BDSM. It could mean joining a volunteer group, attending a networking event, or just saying "yes” to the invite to post-work drinks with your co-workers. Essentially it's keeping yourself open to new experiences and people. If at the end of every day that you've tried something new, you still love your SO just as much, then you're probably happy to stay with them.
Keeping momentum in your life will also inevitably bring you to the occasional crossroads—perhaps you meet someone new and you enjoy the same hobbies and have great banter, or perhaps you meet someone whose company is hiring new people in your field, or perhaps your company wants to transfer you to a new city—these moments are scary, but they are the potential steps to happiness. Close your eyes and imagine yourself three years in the future. Are you with your current SO? Are you still in the same job, the same city, or a new one? Often your subconscious already knows what you want before your waking mind does.
If you and your SO are stuck in the depths of ennui, it makes sense that you're having doubts. But what I'm saying is: your SO is not necessarily the cause of your discontent. Get out there, live your best life and see where it takes you. If you find that the journey is better with your SO, then keep them around. If you find the journey is better without, then maybe it's time to move on.
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