I still think “friendzone” should be a big calzone you share with your friends.
It’s important that women be able to share their stories and experiences openly if they choose to, so that they can connect with each other and...”
"Do you feel reluctant to put your limits out there because you have the idea being clear about not wanting sex means you’re a prude, sexually shackled or repressed? If so, please know that kind of awareness, assertiveness, self-care and self-determination is anything but.
Concepts of “sexual repression” or “sexual liberation,” are not universally defined, but are very arbitrary and personal. These aren’t things we can soundly just assign to people, nor things that we can know anything about just based on whether someone does or doesn’t want to have sex. Much like words for sexual orientation or gender, these are words best and most accurately expressed only by someone about themselves, based on their own feelings, experiences and introspection.
I think being as clear and strong about a sexual no as a yes is strong evidence someone is sexually liberated and empowered, not repressed. It’s people who do not (yet!) feel sexually empowered who feel they can’t say no. Someone who feels empowered sexually is usually someone who’s good at advocating for themselves in what they want and don’t, and at setting whatever limits and boundaries they have. Someone who feels sexually empowered tends to take real ownership of their own sexual wants, don’t-wants, needs and choices.
Liberation, of any kind, is centered in freedom, and freedom is centered in people having the power, ability and right to make their own choices. Empowerment is about a real feeling of power and agency in our own lives. So, if and when you want to opt out of sex or a sexual relationship, know that holding to that limit, regardless of what someone else wants from you, is something that supports liberation and empowerment, not something that opposes it.
By the way, some people choose to reclaim and use the word “prude” to express part of who they are without feeling crummy about it, just like some people do with “slut.” The origin of that word goes back around four centuries, originally meaning “woman who affects or upholds modesty in a degree considered excessive.” This may sound familiar: just like the word “slut,” it’s a term based in other people’s own standards, ideas and wants about other people as a whole and their sexuality — and what they consider too much or too little for someone else. It’s not about someone’s own ideas and standards about themselves, which is what we support with people’s sexual lives if we want them to be healthy and beneficial. You may find it’s powerful for you to reclaim terms like prude, swapping them from being something people use to try and control the sexuality of others into something you feel represents the sexuality you want. Who knows, maybe SuperPrude! is exactly the kind of identity that will help you flip the bird at people who doesn’t respect you for making your own choices, and feel like just the thing to support you in sticking to what it is you want.”
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.