He’s 13 and I’m two years older

A reader wrote in:

Question for Matt & Jess: I am 14 (15 in a few months) and I am going to be a freshman. The boy I like is 13 and going to be in 8th grade. We will both be in high school together because our school doesn’t have a middle school, but is 2 years still too much of an age difference? Because soon I will be 15 and him still 13. I want to be sure that it’s appropriate. Thanks. :)
– Female blog visitor, July 2014

JESS:  When it comes to dating and relationships, the level of maturity and compatibility can be more important factors than age itself. Some people may not approve of your relationship, or think that the younger guy is in the relationship because ‘it’s cool to be dating an older girl’. The relationship is between you and your boyfriend, so if both of you share similar views (the most important one being that both of you are considerate and respectful to each other) and are committed to making things work out, that ultimately is what matters. Best wishes!

MATT: I agree with everything Jess said, but let me add another thought. Because of the age difference, you should consider what both families think. That doesn’t matter as much for experienced adults, but you guys are young enough to have your parents put large obstacles in your way, so it’s best to get both sets of parents on board first.

I used to like you but now I don’t but I want to be friends

A reader wrote in:

Question for Matt & Jess: Last year I was really good friends with a guy. We were almost like brother and sister (that’s what people told me). We always would joke around and teased each other, but I knew he cared about me. People always said that we would be a good couple, and I started to like him a little. But then, people would always say things and it got really annoying.

I told him that I liked him during the summer but that I didn’t anymore. Now, this year, I only have one class with him. He talked to me during the first week of school, but then he became really distant. Now, I never talk to him anymore, but I always catch myself staring at him during class. I don’t like him, but I still care about him. Sometimes when I’m alone, I get really emotional because I really miss him and the way we used to be. He was like my best friend. Now, I feel like he purposely ignores me and maybe hates me, but I don’t know why.

Now, he’s having this huge party that everyone I know was invited to. Even my best friend who never talks to him, was invited, but I wasn’t. My friends tried a couple times to get me an invitation, but it didn’t work. I act like I don’t care anymore, but I’m always jealous of his friendships he has with other girls and not me. But I don’t want to act too desperate. I text him, and he purposely doesn’t reply, and I know he’s read the text, because it says so. I want him to be my friend again! I’m so upset about this, and I have no idea how to just get him to even say hi to me anymore.
– Female blog visitor, Feb 15, 2014

MATT:  “I used to like you but now I don’t but I want to be friends” is not a place a boy or a man wants to be if he was ever interested. If this boy was interested at once time, he lost interest because of this complex message. If he was never interested, now he has all the excuse he needs not to change his mind.

It seems like one of two things can be true of you. Either you are still interested in him and telling yourself you’re not, or else you just want to be forgiven because you think you messed it up. In case it’s the second one, I’ll help. You’re young, and mistakes happen, and that’s okay. On behalf of boys everywhere, I forgive you.

Notes on the boy’s behavior: if he doesn’t respond to multiple text messages, that is very unfriendly. Not inviting you to a party is a pretty clear signal also. He does not want to be your friend right now. Probably the whole situation is too complicated for him and he doesn’t want to deal with it. His strategy is called being “passive-aggressive,” which means showing anger and negativity by neglecting people or failing to do what you should do. Who needs a passive-aggressive person to deal with? I don’t. You don’t either. It would be possible to analyze him endlessly, but what for? It’s not worth it.

I remember a conversation from the 1990s comedy show Seinfeld, about the neighbor, Newman, whom Jerry Seinfeld hates.

Kramer: “Maybe there’s more to him than meets the eye?”
Jerry: “No. There’s less.”

Final note: you are young, and there are a lot of boys for you to meet before you settle down. The chances are you won’t meet the right one in middle or high school anyway. Concentrate on school work and hobbies. Looking for a relationship does not always result in a good one. Being a well-rounded, confident person helps more.

JESS: “But I don’t want to act too desperate” — this is indeed a very important point that will work to your favor (whether for now or in the long run). When you are less desperate for attention or validation from others, you will tend to put your attention elsewhere on things that interest you or matter to you. This helps develop a healthy sense of self-esteem as you explore your own self-identity, so that your personality and life do not become defined solely by your relationships.

I agree with Matt that it is not very polite to “not reply” text or email messages. In my opinion, a short, sincere message would still be more respectful than giving no answer at all. Your friend makes it clear that he wants some distance from you by not inviting you to the party (where even girls who didn’t talk to him were invited), while continuing to have friendships with other girls.

I think mutual respect is a very important thing in any kind of human relationship. It would probably be much more worth your time and energy to focus on the friends in your life who do appreciate your friendship, and want to spend time with you. The longer you continue to “act like you don’t care,” when you actually do, the more you are going to torment yourself by getting jealous of your guy friend talking to other girls but not you, etc.

If you make it clear to your guy friend that you would like to stay friends, but he does not feel the same (for whatever reason — you won’t know if he doesn’t express his thoughts on the matter), eventually it’ll be his loss for not appreciating your caring friendship.

Vaginal Irritation

A reader wrote in:

Question for Matt & Jess: My boyfriend and I have vaginal sex and I just ended my period yesterday, and we had sex. I showered and cleaned my vagina right after, but when I woke up this morning my vagina was irritated and still is. We had sex today, and the same thing happened (irritation and some itchiness) — I took pills for a yeast infection I had last week and it helped it go away. I use Ivory soap, and we use spermicidal lubricated condoms (Trojan) could my vagina be irritated due to those things? Please help me figure this out.
– Female blog visitor, Jan 14, 2014

MATT:  Thanks for asking us a question; we are glad to help.

You should see a medical professional, such as your personal doctor, a nurse-practitioner, or even a gynecologist for even minor conditions that you are not sure of. Women need to be aggressive and proactive when they take care of their reproductive health.

There are multiple explanations available. Some women have allergic reactions to spermicides or to latex, resulting in itching and rashes. Ivory soap has perfume which may not agree with sensitive skin. If your sexual relationship began recently, it’s possible that your vagina needs to be “broken in” — that the rashes may be a temporary result of not being used to the intense physical contact of intercourse. If that is it, then the condition will go away on its own, but don’t assume that is the explanation: get medical advice. I’m not sure why yeast infection pills would help with any rash caused by abrasion or allergy, but taking medicines for any purpose other than what they are intended to help with is risky: this is again a question for a medical professional.

I do not recommend that teen girls have intercourse with their boyfriends, but since you have decided to do it, please keep using condoms to protect your health and avoid pregnancy.

JESS: “Douching” is washing or cleaning out the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids. Most doctors and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that women don’t douche, as it can affect the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in a healthy vagina.

Here are a couple of medical resources on douching (and why it should be avoided):

1. Douching Fact Sheet (WomensHealth.gov)
2. Vaginal Douching (MedicineNet.com)

According to WomensHealth.gov, you can keep the outside of your vagina clean and healthy by washing regularly with warm water and mild soap when you bathe.

If you have sensitive skin, you may be allergic to latex, spermicide, and synthetic chemicals that you find in regular commercial beauty or personal care products. You should also avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays, as these may increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection.

You could try looking for a mild, all-natural organic soap like Sappo Hill Natural Oatmeal Glycerine Soap (Fragrance Free). Natural lamb skin condoms might be better than spermicidal lubricated condoms too, when it comes to dealing with vaginal irritation.

If the problem persists, you should see a doctor or gynecologist that you trust, so that you can discuss how else the vaginal itching and irritation can be kept at bay.

Submit Your Question

Question for Matt & Jess: Um. What is this? Why is my boyfriend checking out this site?
– Reader Email, 2013

MATT:  Hi — thanks for your question. I would invite you and your boyfriend to submit questions together and separately.

JESS: I would invite you and your boyfriend to submit questions too, if there’s something on your mind! If you like, you could submit questions by yourself or with your boyfriend :)

To answer your question, this is a blog where readers can submit questions to the authors of Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships (2012).

The about page has more information on the book and authors.

Maybe there’s a subject your boyfriend would like to discuss with you, so he was “looking up” on some information first.

Masturbation isn’t working?

A reader wrote in (edited for spelling and punctuation):

Question for Matt & Jess: I’ve tried masturbating because I’m 14 (and a girl) and NOT ready for sex. But I feel nothing! No pleasure or any thing! And I know all of my parts down there, too. Should I see a doctor?
– 14 year-old female, June 28, 2013

MATT:  It never hurts to ask your doctor questions about sex, or you can ask an older woman in your family whom you can trust to keep the discussion private. Definitely bring it up with your doctor at your next check-up. If you don’t feel comfortable with your regular doctor, you can see a gynecologist.

You may not be feeling any response to your masturbation because of perfectly normal psychological elements of your life. You may be nervous or uncomfortable about what you are doing, just because it’s the first time you’ve tried, or possibly because adults have told you that masturbation is wrong. (A lot of adults do say that, usually giving a religious reason.) It’s also possible that your body is not responding because you aren’t thinking about anything that is a sexual turn-on to you. At your age, it’s really okay not to be ready for sex, and so it’s okay not have any turn-ons. When the right time comes that you feel a strong sexual urge (which may be when you’re older), and you are calm and okay with what you are doing, get into a private, comfortable space, physically and mentally, and your body should respond.

JESS: I was actually rather glad to read that you’re “NOT ready for sex” — I was a lot more confused during my teenage years as to whether I was really ready or not!

I think masturbation should be a pleasurable, natural thing to do. Some religions consider masturbation to be a bad activity. To me, I always reasoned that it was a solo activity where no one was being harmed. If you have guilty feelings about masturbation, then it’s probably those feelings that are standing in the way of your enjoyment from solo sexual pleasure (and you might have to spend a bit of time thinking about how much control you wish to have of your own personal sexual development and sexual feelings).

If it’s not guilty feelings that are getting in the way, my guess is that you’re attempting to follow what “should be working” for masturbation. For instance, some women enjoy masturbating only when they’re lying down on their backs and gently stimulating their clitoris with their fingers. Some females don’t experience any pleasure at all when they first insert a finger or some other small object when they’re masturbating.

I don’t think it’s necessary to see a doctor (in terms of your body being “not physically responsive” to masturbation at the moment — as in, I don’t think it’s a medical condition where something is wrong), though you can talk to your doctor about it if it will give you some peace of mind.

Pleasure from masturbation will come about when you feel you want and need sexual urges to be released. I suppose this happens at different speeds for different people — stay relaxed and let your body go at its own pace to discover what you like naturally.

Bisexual Long Distance Relationship

(from January 4, 2012)

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Original Question for Matt & Jess:

Okok well because I’m in a long distance relationship, and I think I’m in love with her (I’m bisexual just saying lol) and yeah well I told her, because I think I am, but im not sure what love is, but I’m scared to leave again because like I came here to where she and my other friends are
For a few weeks and I’m going back soon but I’m scared to leave, and we used to be BESTFRIENDS… Still are we used to be in a 3 way relationship but I left then because it didn’t feel so right and felt like I wasn’t ready, that’s when I was up to where in living now…but I came back here like I said for a few weeks,and I and a few
Friends had a
Few beer got
Feeling good and I decided to ask her
Out again, cuz I still liked
Her…it’s been like
Almost 2 weeks tomorrow…but I’m scared I might leave and like I know I won’t be back here till another while like that I might get tired and leave her but I don’t want to, it’s cuz I used to be that person who wouldn’t be in a relationship long, cuz it got boring…cuz a lot of people likes me but I wanted to do it new yeah know..but ya sorry for writing a whole life time book on here I just don’t know what to do like I love her and don’t want to fuck up… :(
– 15 year-old bisexual female, Canada

MATT’S COMMENTS: It is difficult for Jess and I to give personal advice because of the risk of lawsuits from parents etc. For now, we have converted this reader’s specifics into a general question where we can input more general advice for anyone in that situation. Our re-phrasing of the question:

I have a history of changing relationships often. Now I want to be serious about someone, but it’s long distance. How can I get the person I like to trust me? How should I behave to make it work?
– 15 year-old bisexual female, Canada

JESS: I have personally had a history of rather intense “relationship” situations (many times involving “unrequited love”!)…though in general, I think a very real kind of love is more supportive than disruptive. Meaning, there are a few basic elements that will help you to explore your own feelings on how deep your love is for a specific person. How much do you care for each other? Is there open and honest communication? Do you accept each other for what you really are, or do you expect each other to “change” to fit each other’s ideal notions of what you each “should” be?

The original question mentioned that you used to be best friends with this person. That does make things more complicated, though I greatly appreciate the value of friendship (and how that can be a very good foundation for a romantic/sexual relationship).

It’s good that you left the 3-way relationship because it didn’t feel right at the time — and that you’ve done some reflection and know you “used to be that person who wouldn’t be in a relationship long.” This suggests you are indeed looking for something more lasting with more depth. The problem is whether the other person is looking for the same thing as you (something serious, that might be long distance for a while).

The best way to get a person to trust you is to share with them your honest feelings about them. This will not always be appreciated, for various reasons. Sometimes, the other person is not yet ready to deal with such heavy emotions or situations. Sometimes, they have “somebody else” they’re interested in (but don’t wish to tell you in order to spare you any awkward feelings/situations). Sometimes, they really don’t care and are more interested in their own situations (these are people you seriously do not need in your life).

I am usually “just myself” when I love a person — I sometimes think of the following quote when I am in a difficult relationship situation:

“I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ― Marilyn Monroe

The more honest you are “as” yourself, the more likely you are to attract or eventually find someone who is what they are too (and who will like you for what you are, for your good as well as not-so-good qualities).

Don’t worry too much about messing things up if you are honest with your feelings. Let your friend know that you treasure their friendship too. It can be very painful to deal with rejection, but ultimately (in a sense), it’s the other person’s loss for not wishing to explore a deeper type of love with you (which leaves you free to look for someone else who is). Developing a healthy sense of self-esteem works wonders too (this will leave you feeling less distraught when facing difficult relationship/life situations).

You can try very hard to make things work, but remember that it takes the other person to “respond” to your efforts and put some effort into the thing too. This goes smoother when you both share a mutual care and open communication with each other. Such things cannot be forced though (hence the saying, “love is patient, love is kind”).

Just be yourself, be sincere, and be honest with your feelings, without allowing these feelings to totally consume you. In my personal experiences, I’ve found that journalling, talking to close friends/people I trust, and listening to music (and/or doing creative things) helped me deal with a lot of difficult feelings.

I’ve also noticed that people do tend to find what they “really, really want” if they persevere long enough. Long road but worth it.

Best wishes on your own journey in love/life/relationships!

Horny During Period

(from January 4, 2012)

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Question for Matt & Jess:

I’m a preteen (14,to be precise). Why do I feel soo horny when I’m on my period?
– 14 year-old Teen Guide: Q&A blog visitor

MATT: Jess should handle this one as I would only be speculating.

JESS: A female’s libido (sex drive) and hormonal changes vary from month to month. These changes are different for different females too. So there could be a few reasons why a girl/woman feels more horny at certain times of the month.

Some females feel very horny JUST before their period begins. From a biological viewpoint,this is the time when a female’s body is ready to be impregnated. Her body is ready for fertilization — meaning it’s a good time for the egg to be fertilized by a sperm (from the male). This is the case “biologically,” whether or not you actually wish to get pregnant!

Another theory is that a female could feel hornier or sexier due to the increased blood flow and lubrication in her groin during that time of month. This feeling of being hornier can also help relieve PMS symptoms in some females (symptoms such as menstrual cramps). P.S. The latter applies to me :)