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.
(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!
(from December 9, 2012)
* Matt’s answers are featured first — Jess will respond soon.
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MATT: Here are some questions from a female reader in the UK. As per my policy, I don’t respond directly — can’t give personal advice for legal reasons — but I am pleased to offer general responses for all readers. The reader’s words are in bold.
Q. How does sex work?
Matt: I’m sure my buddy Jess would agree that sex involves both body and mind. Your body drives you toward sex for various reasons, but it’s your personality that determines the timing and frequency you are comfortable with as well as the partners you desire. You may want sex (or agree to it when you don’t really want it) because of loneliness, boredom, need for emotional support, or just the influence of your hormones (the body chemicals associated with growth and development and sexuality). As I said in Teen Guide, casual sex is risky because deeper attachments often form when they aren’t intentional, and when the partner isn’t suitable in the long-term. So there is a disconnect between when you want to have sex and when it’s good for you. Be careful! Sex always has consequences (good or bad). It’s pleasurable, but it isn’t just for pleasure.
Q. At what stage in your life do you feel love for the other sex?
Matt: That depends upon your definition of love. In my view, love is the result of a mature, complex interaction between people, but you can believe yourself to be in love when you are very young. Sometimes that works out, but you’re lucky if it does. Usually it doesn’t. Connections that are actually temporary at best often seem permanent because of the intensity of your feelings when you’re younger. Later in life, you’ll decide it wasn’t love after all, and question the decisions you made.
If you are very young now, you won’t believe me, and that’s okay. What you are feeling probably seems like it’s what you were meant to feel for the person you are meant to be with. Chances are it’s not, though. There’s a basis for your feelings, but the rest is because of your stage of life, physical and emotional. We older people would like to be able to feel a young person’s passion and can’t, but we also cherish the kind of love that we can feel, that comes from deep commitment, acceptance, and security.
Q. How do I control my feelings for the opposite sex?
Matt: Write them down. Keep a journal or a diary, and don’t share it with anyone. Also, use a lot of physical energy. Play sports. Get exercise. Volunteer. Get a job. Meet and spend time with a lot of people. This will diminish the power of overly strong attachments.
Q. At what age do the feelings tend to calm at?
Matt: As a male, I was worst between 16-19, I didn’t calm down until my mid-20s, and even in my late 20s, I was still capable of getting emotional in a misguided way. Getting married calmed me down most. Now that someone returns my feelings, I don’t feel so needy, and my wife and I just take care of each other.
Your feelings will probably calm when you have more experience of relationships, and when you outgrow the hormone surges of your teenage years.
Q. How do I know if it’s the right time to have sex? What’s the first time like? How do you know if the feelings aren’t just lust?
Matt: There’s nothing to say here that wasn’t said better in Teen Guide. Here’s a short version of my point of view. Sex goes with strong compatibility and commitment and is best saved for a mature version of yourself. The first time is not usually all it’s expected to be. It’s over quickly and you will probably think or even say, “Was that it?” You know the feelings aren’t just lust if you can talk for hours and accept each other’s weaknesses and private feelings.
I hope this all helps.
— originally posted at Matt’s website
Welcome to Teen Guide: Q & A!
By the co-authors of Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships, Matt Posner and Jess C Scott.