So, here’s a thing I’ve seen happen:
- People get really into social justice...
I’m wondering what a good age to have a ‘relationship' is? I'm 13 and I've sort of began to have stronger attractions both emotionally and physically to boys. I'm not sure if I'm ready for a relationship and I'm scared that if it doesn't work (for example, if I'm frigid or something) it will ruin our friendship. I know it's not much of a big deal but I just want some help and reassurance.
Heather Corinna replies:
Hooray for thinking about what you might want or feel ready for in intimate or dating relationships before you pursue them! So often people just kind of passively fall into relationships and only then try and figure what they want and need. It’s not impossible to do it that way, and there are some things we can’t sort out until we’re actually in something. But taking the time to first get a general sense of what you want, need and feel okay about before getting into relationships is a much better foundation for good relationships you feel good about.
Getting into intimate relationships is a big deal. Same goes with choosing to start a brand new and complex area of your life. You don’t need to say it isn’t a big deal. You know it is — and I agree! — which is why you are asking what you are and have the concerns you do.
There really isn’t any good age (or bad age) for any given kind of relationship in a general way, because age is only one part of that and because people of even just one age — like 13 — are still so different.
A certain kind of relationship might feel just right for one person who’s 13, and so wrong for another person who is 13. You might find that dating one person feels like it’s not right for you at all, but dating someone else feels like the most perfect thing of ever, because who we’re in a relationship with, how we feel about them and and ourselves within that relationship and the whole context of our lives, and what that particular relationship is like is most of what determines, at any age, if a romantic or sexual (or any!) relationship feels right. When I say feels right, I mean that emotionally, we feel good about our relationships, our choices and actions in them; good about ourselves within the relationship, and what goes on in that relationship is what we truly want and also know we capable of dealing with and managing.
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A relationship doesn’t need to be perfect or blissful 24/7 to be healthy or happy, and won’t ever be, because people aren’t perfect or blissed out every waking minute, and relationships are made of people.
Conflicts, disagreements and problems do and will happen. We also won’t always get everything we want or need all the time. People change over time, so something that worked once, or worked one way once, won’t always stay working or keep feeling right, especially if the relationship doesn’t change and grow along with us.
Some relationships stay great despite the occasional problem or hiccup, even a big one now and then. Others won’t survive even little issues or will always have more conflict than harmony. Some conflicts can be managed and resolved while staying in a relationship; others can’t, won’t or maybe even shouldn’t be, like if people want and need very different things. Some relationships are worth staying in and working through conflict, while staying in others may not be worth the energy and time, or may hurt everyone more by staying than by parting ways.
Deciding if it’s best to stay or go can be a hard choice, but certain dynamics or feelings make clear a relationship is either likely to be worthwhile and good or likely to be crummy, a poor place to keep investing energy and will probably crash and burn, no matter what.
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I will be a junior in high school next year, and because I’ve been lucky to stumble on a lot of really great sex-positive resources, I’ve learned I have a pretty strong interest in sexuality—as in, studying it/doing something in it as a career. However, getting information about this field is much more difficult than, say, engineering or law. What are jobs within this field, what are areas in college/majors you’d advise, and what are some ways I can get involved now, as a minor? My areas of interest are not really in the medical field—I’m more interested in counseling, giving advice, activism, and education
Also, do you have any advice for telling people about my interest? Right now the only person who knows is my boyfriend, because it’s really difficult for me to trust most other people to not equivocate wanting to study sexuality with being obsessed with having sex. Esp my parents, who are politically liberal in every way except in their parenting. They ask me what I want to do with my life really often, and it’s kinda stressful to not be able to talk to them.
Sam W replies:
Hello Me-from-the-past, I’m glad to see you discovered a means of asking questions of your future self.
I kid, but believe me when I say that your questions strike a chord with anyone who’s found themselves drawn towards sex and sexuality based professions (for the purposes of this articles, I’ll use sex ed as shorthand for all of these jobs, but know that I’m including work such as counseling and activism under that heading). Because wanting to spend your days working with and thinking about sex and sexuality is not a desire that comes with a clear path stretching out before it.
This lack of a clear path is both awesome and terrible. On the one hand, it means that people can come into sex education and related fields from all walks of life, and it means that taking a slight detour doesn’t mean giving up on the path entirely. On the other hand, it can leave people who are just getting started in the field feeling completely lost. So, while I can’t guarantee what your path forward looks like, I can give you some advice on how to get a clearer sense of it.
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How do I text my significant other without coming off as a thot or a whore?
Heather Corinna replies:
The idea that women who sexually express themselves in any number of ways — like something as simple as expressing sexual desires to a partner through words, be it in speech or text — are sluts, people without or with less value or only sexual value, “bad” women or any of the other crappy things usually meant by people who think like this comes from sexism.
It’s sexist to believe that women can only sexually express themselves acceptably in certain ways or else they lack value or worth because they’re women. Words like you’re using here are almost exclusively applied only to women. Even when they’re rarely used about men, they don’t pack anything close to the same punch. We get questions from users who are girls or women nearly every day expressing this kind of concern. I could count the number of times on my fingers in fifteen years of this work that men or boys have expressed similar concerns, and most of them have been gay or bisexual.
Even the idea that people who are earnestly whores (who engage in prostitution or other kinds of sex work) are “bad” women is usually about sexism. Hint: they’re just people with a job they can do or want to do for the same or similar reasons people choose other kinds of work, like so they can eat and keep a roof over their heads. It’s also often about some other kinds of discrimination — like discrimination around economic class or race: women of color, for instance, are far more frequently arrested for prostitution than white women — but sexism is usually the biggie.
Ultimately, what you’re asking me is how to avoid sexism.
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