Coming Out Late In the Game, Embracing the Inner Bridezilla, and Recharging Your Libido

by Lindsay Miller

I’m in recovery from a year and a half of sleeping with someone who manipulated me into doing things I wasn’t comfortable with, told me I was worthless, decided he didn’t want to be exclusive (I didn’t either) but deserved to know in explicit detail about any hookups I had, and didn’t listen when I said no about anything ever. So he was bad for me, and I said goodbye four months ago and haven’t talked to him since.

So, he was a jerk, and also I was bad at communicating. He’d ask if I like something, and I’d say “not really,” and he’d do it again and tell me that I did like it (he’s a jerk. I spend a lot of time and energy reminding myself that he’s a jerk). But then I gave up on telling him about what I wanted or what felt good or what was stressing me out because he didn’t ever listen, so I just told him what I knew he wanted to hear and went along with whatever he wanted me to do. That part is my fault.

So, now I’m interested in hooking up in a casual or more than casual way with someone who I had what I intended to be a one night stand with last June. We didn’t really talk much before or after hooking up this summer. I know that in order to avoid feeling as skeezy as I felt after every time I hooked up with The Jerk, I need to figure out how to communicate with the new guy, but it’s really hard. I often don’t know what I want, and when I do the words get stuck in my throat and I have to force them out through a brainfilter that tells me “you should be embarrassed about this.” Any suggestions about where to start in order to avoid another communicatastrophe?

Hello there, buttercups! It’s 2014 and I have a custom-made New Year’s resolution for each person whose question I’m answering this month. They’re locally made, vegan, and they come in each of your personal favorite colors (with or without glitter, as you prefer). Here is your resolution, darlin’, and I’d like you to repeat after me / say it as a mantra every morning when you wake up / write it on your mirror in lipstick / get it tattooed backwards on your chest Memento-style: “This year, I resolve to stop blaming myself for the people who have treated me badly.”

You’re on your way — you’ve acknowledged that the major problem with your ex was that he was a jerk (though I’d go further and call him an abusive, manipulative asshole) — but you’re still taking too much of it onto yourself. The scenario you described, in which The Jerk did something you specifically said you didn’t like, repeatedly, until you stopped saying it? That’s not you being “bad at communicating.” That’s him being bad at listening, bad at respecting boundaries, bad at being a halfway decent fucking human being. It’s not your fault that you couldn’t make him take your wishes into account, and no one could blame you for eventually giving up trying.

So how can you avoid the same thing happening with this new guy? Well, if he’s not an abusive, manipulative asshole, that will make it a lot easier. (If he is an AMA, well, at least you’ve had some practice identifying the warning signs and developing your exit procedure.) You’ll still need to unlearn the habits you picked up while dating The Jerk — not expressing your needs and wants, not saying “no” to his even when you felt like it — but there won’t be another catastrophe, unless this new dude is also a catastrophically shitty person.

Unlearning those habits is going to be as easy (and as difficult) as reminding yourself over and over that it’s okay to say what you want. If you don’t always know what you want, that’s fine too, and it’s also okay to say that. This can take a lot of different forms: “I don’t know whether I want to have sex tonight, but let’s keep making out and I’ll let you know if I feel like stopping.” “I don’t know what position I’m in the mood for. Why don’t we start with what you like?” “I think I might be interested in trying such-and-such kink, but I’m not sure I’ll be into it in real life. Can we give it a shot and see whether it feels good?”

You don’t have to be one-hundred percent certain of what you want in order to communicate effectively. Uncertainty, experimentation, and changing your mind are all part of a healthy sexual relationship. Let your new dude know when you’re not so sure about something, and pay attention to how he responds. Does he try to talk or coerce you into something when you’ve expressed hesitation? Then he sucks and you should hit the eject button. Does he listen to your doubts, pay attention to your non-verbal cues, and proceed with caution until he’s sure you’re having a good time? Then he’s met the baseline requirements for a trustworthy hookup — and the more times he demonstrates that you can trust him, the more comfortable you’ll feel opening up about your desires.

I’m 24, have known I was gay since I was 13, but tried for a long while to pretend that wasn’t the case. It was a completely terrifying realization at age 13, and then in high school boys were interested in me and that seemed fun so I assumed “of course I can’t possibly be gay” and that was that. I went to a pretty socially conservative college so that didn’t help much. What I did realize in college, though, is that my relationships with guys never seemed quite to work out — part of that was that, as is sometimes the case with college students, either the semester was ending or I was moving or going abroad or he was or whatever, and so distance was part of this. A couple different times, I started a relationship that sort of fizzled out when it went long distance. I guess I realized, though, that my feelings were never strong enough for this to be much of an issue on my end. I didn’t care enough, to be blunt. This happened one last time the summer after college, and I finally came to the conclusion that, okay, these are great dudes but you are simply not into them, maybe we should re-visit this gay thing.

So, okay. I now realize I’m probably not going to date guys. But, I’m kinda old to just suddenly realize I’m into girls, yes? How do I explain my weird post-college change?

Complicating this situation is the fact that I recently (three months ago) started work in a super-queer workplace — awesome, actually, but everyone is out and therefore I’ve had a million chances to mention this, and haven’t. Because I’m not out to everyone in my home/past life, I feel weird mentioning it offhand. On the other hand, how do I casually bring this up later when I haven’t before? I’m also kind of self-conscious that the other queers in the office will be like “hey, I came out in high school and it sucked but I put up with it, what’s YOUR excuse?!” and I won’t have one.

You may not have an excuse, but you DO have this charming, conflict-free, unpasteurized New Year’s resolution: “This year, I resolve not to assume that other people will be as hard on me as I am on myself. Also, I resolve to make a genuine effort to be less hard on myself.”

No one is going to be mad at you for not coming out sooner! In fact, lots of people, at your work and elsewhere, came out or will come out at a much more advanced age than 24. It’s probably fair to say that the average age of coming out has gotten lower in the last generation or so, as society in general becomes more accepting, and schools, workplaces, and families become more sensitive to LGBT issues; still, you’re nowhere near the far end of the bell curve, trust me.

If anything, the queer people you work with are going to be more sensitive to your taking the time you needed to come out. How and when to disclose your sexual orientation is an intensely personal and ongoing issue that every queer has to deal with in their own way. (If the mail carrier calls my partner my roommate and I don’t correct her, am I closeting myself? Is it okay to avoid pronouns when I talk about my weekend so I don’t have to teach Genderqueer 101 when the dental hygienist was just making small talk? Can’t I just get a really gay haircut and let that do all the work for me?) (For those who are curious, an extensive scientific study known as “my life” suggests that there is NO haircut so gay that some people will not still assume you’re straight.)

If you’ve been actively lying about your orientation — pretending to have a boyfriend when no such creature exists, for instance — some people may be a little offended when you come clean, though even then they’ll understand and forgive you. If all you’ve done is deliberately steer clear of the subject, no queer person is going to give you a hard time when you finally mention it. They’ve been there; they know it’s rough.

Bringing it up doesn’t need to be a big deal. Any workplace with that many homos almost definitely has some kind of after-hours socializing going on, so just ask if you can tag along to the next queer book club / happy hour / brunch meet-up; when someone asks, “Wait, are you…?” you just say, “Yeah, it turns out I am!” and shrug and smile, and twenty-to-one, they welcome you into the club with no further questions. Yes, some gay folks can get competitive about who’s been out the longest, who’s a “gold star” (ugh everyone please stop using that phrase forever), who’s “recruited” the most people (likewise ugh), etc., and you should be prepared in your heart to peace out on those people forever. They are Not Here To Make Friends, They’re Here To Win, and as such they are boring and tiresome. However, most of the queers you’re likely to meet, at work or elsewhere, are more interested in hanging out with cool people and building a fun community than ascertaining who’s the more successful dyke. If anyone gets judgy or one-uppy on you, that’s their problem; falling short of their bullshit standards is no failure on your part, so don’t worry about it too much.

Finally, you’re not at all too old to realize and/or decide that you like girls. Lots of people go through the same process you did — assume straightness as the default, never really feel that excited about straight relationships, finally conclude in early-to-mid-adulthood that it’s because they’re actually super queer. Diving into the gay dating pool at your age is totally normal. Don’t worry about it, and don’t let it hold you back from making friends, or chatting up girls you think are cute.

I’m getting married in just a few months to a wonderful, kind, and loving man that me and my heart-vagina have chosen with great care. Aside from being married to him, the most exciting thing to me about our wedding is getting to have a big old fun celebration with all the people I love. But lately, it’s also become the scariest thing.

In just the past couple of years, I’ve gone from identifying as straight to queer/ pansexual, and luckily for me, the majority of my friends are out-and-proud queers all over the spectrum. My best friend/best man is in a long-term relationship with a guy who has become like family to my fiance and I. I want to make my wedding a fun and safe place for them and all my gay, queer, trans, and gender-non-conforming friends to be and celebrate with me, drunken makeouts on the dance floor and all, but unfortunately, a fair number of my close relatives are conservative with a tendency to be pretty close-minded and uncaring of how their actions and words affect others, including me.

Up until recently, my attitude has just been to do what I want, and anyone who has a problem with it has to deal with it. Like, I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone ahead of time that my only “bridesmaid” is a dude, and I’m not changing my name, and some of my guests will probably be affectionate with their same-sex partners, right? But as the big day draws near, I’ve begun to worry that not only is that potentially unfair to my queer guests who could be on the receiving end of some jerkiness, it also leaves me with a big potential problem that I might not be capable of mediating gracefully myself on my wedding day. Not inviting the potentially-rude relatives is not on the table; neither is not inviting my friends, and neither, it should go without saying, is asking them to “tone it down” for the Olds. But because I never came out to my family, and avoid confrontations with them as a general rule (with the relatives in question, any effort I make to defend myself or others from hurtful words or behavior gets written off as me being “too sensitive” or “naive” or “brainwashed by my liberal education”), I don’t really know how to address how important it is to me that my friends are treated with respect without it totally catching my family off-guard and immediately putting them on the defensive.

I’ve dug through my fair share of queer-friendly wedding blogs for advice and wise strategies, but everything I’ve seen so far is kind of geared towards the angle of, “you have to learn to respect me and my queerness and that means not being a jerk to _______, too.” I realize that I haven’t made things very easy on myself by staying closeted, but coming out to the more difficult members of my family a couple months shy of my wedding to a straight cis man in the hopes that their love for me will lead to a glittery rainbow miracle of acceptance and goodwill just doesn’t seem like the most practical or realistic way to go.

Is there anything I can do to make sure my friends are truly safe and welcome to express their love for us as a couple and for each other, without creating a shitstorm of family drama that I am quite frankly not prepared to deal with? Do I need to appoint some sort of LGBTQ liaison/bouncer? Am I spinning a nightmare-fantasy out of nothing? I’d be so grateful for anything you could do to help me get some much-needed perspective.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! For your “something new,” please accept this 100 percent organic cage-free New Year’s resolution: “This year, I will let my inner Bridezilla come out to play — just a little bit.” This is your wedding we’re talking about, and just as you and your beloved get to decide the menu, the band, and the dress code (within reason — no fair being like, “Everyone has to wear a diamond tiara!” when you know your friends are broke-ass grad students), you also get to set some expectations for appropriate behavior.

One way to do this is through the increasingly popular wedding website. This is how my partner and I handled preparing our loved ones for many of the unorthodox aspects of our ceremony; we included a URL on the invitation, and the website included things like brief bios of each of our attendants (we had mixed-gender parties) and an explanation of our preferred terminology (we asked folks to steer clear of the words “bride” and “groom”), along with the standard hotel information, menu, etc. If you set up something similar, you can present certain aspects of your wedding to your guests ahead of time — you’ll have a dude attendant, you won’t be changing your name, etc. — so they’ll have time to get used to ideas that may be unfamiliar without being surprised into douchiness on the day of.

You can also go a step further, if it seems necessary, and appoint someone from your inner circle to act as ambassador. Since you said that not inviting those people is impossible, I’m guessing that’s because you don’t want to offend other family members who you like better; therefore, you may be able to recruit one of those less-sucky family members to carry a message to their homophobic counterparts. That message is: You have queer friends, they will be at the wedding, and everyone had better be cool or they are off your Christmas card list for eternity. (Yes, this is a big favor to ask of someone. But it’s your wedding!)

You don’t need to come out to anybody, especially not anybody you have reason to suspect would be a dick about it, in order to make your point. Lots of straight people have queer friends, and lots of straight people feel strongly opposed to anyone being rude or intolerant to their queer friends. This doesn’t need to be about your orientation unless you want it to be. It can be about nothing more than simple goddamn manners.

Finally, whether you decide to put the word out ahead of time or not, I’d advise you not to spend too much time worrying about this. Most people, even the terrible ones, have enough self-awareness not to start a scene at someone’s wedding; if they do talk shit, it’s likely to be after the fact, when your friends aren’t there to be hurt by it. Make sure your hateful relatives are last going through the dessert line, and enjoy your celebration with the people you care about!

My lady and I are both women who identify themselves on the asexual spectrum (both gray-A) who are in a romantic relationship. We have a great relationship. I see a future with her, and she sees a future with me.

We both found regular (vanilla) sex uninteresting, so we had a sexless relationship for a while, but then my lady confided in me what she thinks about when she masturbates, and it turns out we fantasize about the same kinds of things and we know exactly what turns the other on. So… we had nonstop kinky sex for a few weeks. It was unexpectedly amazing and we were both going, “WTF, are we sex fiends now?”

Here’s the thing — it’s been several months since then, the pace has dropped to something much more manageable, we bought a bunch of vibrators and sex toys, and our sex drives are still in sync, but… her kinks are no longer turning her on anymore, not even when she masturbates. Is that a thing that happens?? Can you wear out a kink from overuse? Can you wear it out permanently? Maybe I’m also anxious about it because I get a lot less turned on by my own kinks than I used to, and I’m sort of scared we’re facing a completely sexless future. How do you get your kinks back? Lay off sex for a while? Reduce the frequency? Get used to vanilla sex? Is this all because we have low sex drives? We’re not used to being excited about sex at all, and we don’t want to give that up just yet.

Basically, how do we continue our sexual activities? Any ideas?

P.S. No medication, no BC pill, probably no hormonal issues. Not much stress either, and neither of us are depressed.

Your rechargeable, non-porous, multi-speed adjustable New Year’s resolution, which will fit neatly into your toy box, is: “This year, I will accept that my sex drive ebbs and flows, and I will do my best not to stress out and try to force things when I’m at low tide.”

If you and your lady have low sex drives, chances are good you’ll always have low sex drives. The Incredible Bone Marathon you had when you discovered your compatible kinks was, in all probability, analogous to the honeymoon period a lot of couples have at the beginning of a relationship, when everything is thrilling and new and your energy seems boundless and everyday worries have yet to intrude on your bliss. Now that excitement is wearing off, and you’re settling down into what’s likely to be your sexual routine from here on out — which means less sex, because, as you mentioned, neither of you has a very high libido.

The good news is that you have probably not worn out your kinks from overuse. There’s always a chance that you’re the outliers, of course, but most people will tell you with a fair amount of confidence that Kinks Are Forever (like diamonds, but without all the artificially inflated prices and restrictive gender roles). Yes, sometimes you try out something you’ve been fantasizing about and realize you like it way less in real life than in your head, but usually that happens out of the gate, not after weeks of relentless fucking. Give yourselves some time to recharge your batteries (both figuratively and literally, because nothing says “I’m committed to lowering my carbon footprint in 2014” like greener sex toys), and I’d be willing to bet your kinks will start to feel exciting again before too long.

Previously: Befriending Your Best Friend’s Girlfriend and Resisting the “One True Sex Act”

Lindsay King-Miller is also on Twitter. Do you have a question for her?