Ask J-Ro: Where Is The Love?

I’m head over heels with my guy. We’ve been together a year & now started talking about marriage. But I can’t keep him excited in bed, tho he has plenty of “privet time.” I’ve tried EVERYTHING. He swears he loves/wants me but we haven’t had sex in months. I love him but I also love sex. Advice?!

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Ooh, that’s a tough one. A year is a very short time to be with someone and having a dry spell in the bedroom department that lasts for months. That’s a considerable portion of your time together where you’re feeling rejected and unhappy and you have needs that aren’t being met. It definitely needs addressing with your fella. Your sex life and intimacy level can often reflect how your relationship is progressing, and if it’s non-existent, it’s worth further investigation.

What I find intriguing is that from what you’re saying, he’s got no problem meeting his own needs himself in private time? So he has a sex drive of sorts, but only on his own. It could be an intimacy issue he has or some internal worries that are preventing him from being intimate and loving with you. Masturbation, as well as a sexual release, is a way to relax and decompress without any burden of expectation on the part of an outside party, so I wouldn’t panic too much about that. What’s more important is why you guys aren’t talking with each other about something this fundamental. If he’s swearing that he loves and wants you, then if he’s plainly not wanting to be intimate with you and it’s gone on for months, you’re well entitled to ask for an explanation or at least get the ball rolling on some proper honest communication.

Normally if there’s a sudden lack of interest in sex from a partner, it could be that they’re under a lot of stress in other areas of their life. Stress and anxiety are the ultimate passion-killers, so have a think about whether you have noticed any changes in his behaviour in other areas of life. Are there financial concerns? Could he be depressed? Has he worries and fears about the relationship and where it’s going that he hasn’t spoken about? You guys are only together for a year and are talking about marriage, and that’s a big step. Have you guys really, honestly talked about it and what you want from each other in the long run? Sometimes when things move as fast as that, things tend to take on a life of their own and it can be hard to pump the brakes and really take a look at things to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Let’s tackle the other fear that may be flying around your brain: infidelity. The old “If he’s not getting it from me, he’s getting it somewhere else” cliché can rear its ugly head, but in this situation, I don’t know enough about the relationship to say that it could be a factor. Only your gut instinct and evidence will present that possibility. This would be my ‘last resort’ suggestion if you haven’t gotten any satisfaction (so to speak) with any of the above.

Bottom line: Talk it out. If he’s not willing to discuss it, then to me that’s a way bigger issue than a lack of sex. No point in talking marriage with someone who won’t communicate with you about any problems or concerns they’re having. That’s far too lonely a state to be in. Talk, listen, and face whatever comes.

Good Luck!

Ask J-Ro: In Sex, It Works Both Ways…

I’ve been seeing my bf for 3 months and we’re mad into each other. There’s talk of living together and all kinds of long term plans. One problem. I go down on him and he doesn’t reciprocate. I don’t want to ask for something he doesn’t enjoy but I’m not going without for the rest of my life. Advice?
Oooh, it’s a tricky one! My first instinct would be to get rid of him because if he’s not willing to give you what you need to help fulfill your sexual needs despite the fact that you do it for him, I’d consider it a dealbreaker. I’ve heard from the senior women in my life that “If he’s selfish in bed, he’s selfish in life” – and I can tell you that it’s the truth. Real men take pride in the pleasure they give their other half, and it’s no chore to visit the South, if you know what I mean 🙂

But I hear you saying you’re mad about him, so it might not that simple. It seems that you haven’t broached the subject with him, which is an issue in itself. For something as intimate as sex and going down on someone, it’s so important to talk about it. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject of conversation. Good open communication is the foundation of a great sex life within a relationship. You guys HAVE to have a chat about this; your long-term sexual satisfaction is at stake here. If you don’t say anything and you guys are in it for the long haul, it’s going to be a source of resentment for you, and you won’t want to even go down on him in time because it will seem unfair. If sex becomes a battle-ground instead of a place of happiness and intimacy for you, that can only spell disaster. Talk, talk, talk. You may die a little at first, but think of what you may gain in the long run…

It may be that he doesn’t feel confident going down on a woman, or he may never have done it before – only he knows why he doesn’t do it, so chat with him and see why. The best time to bring it up, ironically, is while you’re having a bit of a post-sex pillow talk. Start by chatting about what you liked about what he DID do, ask him if he likes the stuff you do, then when he brings up you giving him oral sex, say something along the lines that you’d love to have that done to you, and you bet he’d be really good at it – or whatever way suits you! You could even tell him you read an article online that talked about sex tips and how to enhance women’s pleasure in bed and you saw one that tickled your fancy, so to speak..he’s bound to be curious, so let him have a read if he wants. If he’s as mad about you as you say, chances are he’ll want to be the kind of guy who makes his girlfriend feel like a billion dollars in the bedroom.

Those are just a few suggestions on how to broach the topic if you’re feeling a bit shy. I’ve put some links to popular articles from Cosmo below (The bible for topics like these!) so you have some evidence of things you’ve read. The first one is actually very funny, maybe you could share it with the boyfriend and have a bit of a giggle. It’ll make sure he won’t feel like he’s being attacked, and he may take your points on board.

Ask J-Ro: Getting Back In The Game

Idk what sort of questions you answer but any advice for someone trying to be more confident with boys after a long (5 yr) relationship where I didn’t really realise I was unhappy? I love your Twitter by the way & you seem so confident!

Oh thank you! I dunno about confident, but you’ve got to try and lift yourself up as much as you can don’t you? 🙂

So you’re out of a long-term relationship and you’re feeling a bit fragile, which is completely understandable. Five years is a long time to be with someone with whom you’re not 100% happy with, so naturally you’ll be feeling like your self-esteem has taken a hit. But fear not! It’s just a period of adjustment, so try not to take it all too personally. You’re still the same awesome person, and now you’re in a new phase in your life, which can be as exciting as it is scary depending on what way you look at it!

The most important thing is to carve out a social life for yourself independent of any guys you might have an eye on, so spend time with your friends and any hobbies or things that interest you. Throw yourself into life, have the laughs and focus on being happy in yourself. Have the banter and the flirts with the boys in your social circle if you feel like it, there’s nothing nicer than a bit of back-and-forth with the fellas to boost your confidence with getting back in the dating game!

Make sure you’re feeling happy in yourself whatever you get up to, there’s nobody more attractive than someone who smiles. Treat the guys you meet the same as your friends, after all they’re just people too, and they may not be feeling as confident as they seem. Don’t put any undue pressure on yourself to be super-confident, I don’t think anyone is ever always at the top of their game confidence-wise. Take comfort in the fact that when you really think about it, most folk are thinking the same way you do. Everyone wishes they were more outgoing & confident, the difference is some are better at faking it than others (me included!) 🙂

Most importantly, just relax and be patient with yourself. You’ve got some fun times ahead, and if you nurture the relationships with your friends, your happiness and confidence will flourish and the rest will take care of itself. Hope this helps! Best of luck!

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Ask J-Ro: New Love Vs Old Insecurities

I separated from my wife a year ago. there’s a girl that likes me and I like her. She has a kid. She fears 2 things, firstly that I’ll return to the ex and second that I’ll reject her because of her son. How can I reassure her that this isn’t the case for either. When I’m with her my world lights up.

I think the first and most important thing is keep talking with each other, but in a productive way. You don’t want to end up in an endless cycle of constant reassurance, because that does nobody any good, and gets in the way of the fun part of beginning a new and exciting relationship. It sounds like she’s playing it very cautiously, possibly from having been hurt before, so I think you’ll have to take it slow, and be patient. You know how you feel, so let her know your feelings and be open about how much you care for her.

Actions also speak louder than words, remember. So show her what she means to you. I’m not talking about grand pricey gestures or anything material like that (although nobody’s gonna stop you if you want to!). Listen to her, be loyal, trustworthy and reliable, be someone she can depend on and who will be around when she needs. If you really see something long-term with her, it’ll be important to make her son feel valued and important to you; but let her call the shots on that one. Once again, it’s all down to patience. When there’s a child involved it can move things along a lot faster in a budding relationship, and force both parties to lay their cards on the table early on to avoid hurt feelings. Build on what you guys have first, and when she’s feeling secure and sure that this is a long-term thing, she may start bringing her son into the equation.

Lastly, mind yourself in it too. There must be balance, so as long as you feel valued and wanted in the relationship too and not spending all your energy on trying to reassure someone, in time it could be something really special for both of you. If down the line there are still some insecurities surfacing, there really is no substitute for a spot of couple’s counselling. It’s a fantastic way of developing tools of communication and discussion in a safe environment. Therapy is not necessarily a sign of cracks appearing, it’s a sign that you’re prepared to do some nurturing of a relationship that really means something to you. That can only be a good thing!

Good Luck!

Me And My Shadow – Five Years On

I tend to do lots of thinking. Well, what else is there to do when you live in your head all the time? If you’re sitting in a pool all day you may as well swim a lap or two every now and again. Most of the thoughts are fine and banal. Some are friendly, some are out of my control, some have sent me shooting out of sleep like a cannon in absolute terror, taking me five solid minutes to remember where I am, and another five to believe my mind was telling me the truth. Thankfully the latter isn’t as common as it used to be. I wouldn’t wish that kind of thing on my worst enemy. If you can’t trust your own brain, then hope is a very faraway thing.

But anyway, I digress. It’s been a fucking rollercoaster of fresh hell and insane adventures in mental health the last twenty-five months, not to mind the last five years. To put it mildly, this last half-decade makes Girl, Interrupted look like High School Musical. I spoke about my own experience with depression before in Me And My Shadow (click here to read) almost five years ago (yikes), and I’ve felt for a while that it was worth a revisit, if only for myself.

The reason for posting it publicly is to show that there is never an easy wrapped-up Hollywood ending to these things. I’d like to tell you that I found inner peace, loved the shit out of myself and had amazing life-fulfilling relationships that made me glad to be alive, and came off all meds, and lived blissfully ever after, happy as a laughing baby on YouTube. I’d like to tell you that, but I’d be lying SO FUCKING HARD.

I got worse. A whole lot worse. In every way. I still did the everyday stuff like finishing college and all that, but my soul did everything under massive protest. Most nights I stayed in, relieved to be at home where I could collapse into my dark, sad, yet comfortingly familiar little corner of my world. The thoughts of having to get it together mentally & physically to go out into the night and deal with crowds and bright lights and shoving stupid people stepping on my toes and elbowing me in the head (being short in the club is a fucking curse) was just too much to cope with.

I spent most of my alone time listening to sad music and faffing about online. I could be the life and soul of the Facebook party from the comfort of a Onesie while wearing a hair turban with sections of my face smothered in Sudocrem. It’s a good front for those of us who are mentally terrorised by the outside world. It has its drawbacks too, in that if you’re good enough with words and you REALLY don’t want anyone to see how bad you are, nobody will be any wiser. Remember: your fingers don’t get sad; you can still type happy words while crying your eyes out.

So on went this life of mine, with the usual ups and downs while I more or less navigated my way through various crises and hurdles that are microscopic looking back, but at the time seemed like I was at the foot of Everest. That was all fine, and doable, and that too did pass..but then in 2013 my mom died, and my heart and brain broke one after the other, never to be fully healed again.

It’s a strange old thing, grief. I spent the first year without Mam simply on auto-pilot on the outside, working in schools, trying to get some sort of new life together and find a place to live in town and being ‘grand’, all the while holding on to the soothing effects of various meds for dear life for fear I would collapse into a pile of tiny shards of glass if I didn’t have them. There were times I couldn’t allow myself to even take a deep breath in the classroom, in case I would break into sobs because the pain in my chest was too much. But life marched on yet again, and I eventually found some semblance of stability, which is precisely the point at which my brain joined in the fun of completely fucking me over for another twelve months.

I won’t dwell on the many adventures that me and my mind went on together, lest this piece become some sort of self-indulgent Depression Porn, which is not the purpose of this piece (you can wait for The Book for that!). Suffice it to say that when your own brain is your enemy, the world is a very frightening, lonely place. I repeated a lot of bad habits I thought I had left behind years ago. I was back self-harming, both physically and in being careless and not looking after myself, and various other bits and bobs that didn’t help. All this led to an intervention of sorts by some very caring friends who I hadn’t managed to fool, and they scooped me up and got me first into A&E, then into a day psychiatric unit. The rest is a better, albeit staggered, slightly more stable mental history.

I’ve left volumes out, because I will be writing about it in more detail in another long-term project; but also because the nitty-gritty isn’t pertinent to the piece. I guess by looking back at the original piece from 2010 compared to now, I’m showing the world that things aren’t always linear. Particularly when it comes to mental health issues. There’s no such thing as an “I lived happily ever after!” finely tuned ending when it comes to the battle for your sanity. But you know what? That’s totally okay. It is what it is. That ‘One Day At A Time’ stuff works for depression and anxiety as well as addictions. They’re all pits that can pull you back in with the slightest little knock-back. I went eight years without cutting myself, then fell off the wagon during a particularly dangerous black time last year. Afterwards, I was so angry at having broken the promise I made all those years ago, but all I could do was reset the numbers and start again. One day at a time? One minute at a time if you have to. Fuck it, whatever it takes to keep you on this earth a bit longer to give yourself a chance.

It’s when things stop going okay after you think you’ve gotten it all under control that can cause a lot of despair in people. They feel like they’ve failed. But look, shit happens. Whether maintaining good mental health, or recovering from mental health issues, these things are a constantly evolving (and devolving) process. People love loose ends to be tied up all clearly explained and resolved in 30 minutes with commercial breaks, but that’s just fiction. The only thing that marches on consistently, not giving a fuck about where you’re at in life, is time. So let that do the straight-line thing, cos nothing else in life or the state of your mental health is going to behave that way.

So take comfort. If you’re falling down just when you think you’re doing okay, you’re actually still doing okay. It’s just a bump. I swear on all the Gods that people believe in, and on all the laws of nature. You know how I know? Because I’m still here, and so are you, reading this and getting a headache, for which I apologise. Time has passed since you felt a hell of a lot worse, so you’ve got an advantage straight away. That’s how I judge my progress with this Shadow of mine. If I compared how I am now to how I was when I wrote the original post, there’s actually very little progress made. But fill in the space between with all that happened in my life (none of which is unique to me, we all grieve), then I realise how lucky I am that I’m still above ground. So onwards I march. I really hope you do too. But don’t do it alone. I had a treasure-trove of people around me, and that’s the only reason I’m able to sit and type this in any coherent form. Pretend you’re a friend asking you for help – would you be annoyed and tell them to feck off? Speaking from experience, it is incredibly profound and liberating to actually say the words “I’m not okay.” The dynamic that they set off can be, quite literally, life-saving. Get it done.

Oh, and one more thing: FUCK HOLLYWOOD HAPPY ENDINGS.