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Wednesday, November 24,2010

The season's sexual stress

By Dr. Jenni Skyler



Dear Dr. Jenni,

Every year when I go home for Thanksgiving, my mom tries to set me up with a nice Jewish man. I hate that she constantly plays matchmaker, and I never like who she chooses, but she still insists on doing this.

Open To Advice

Dear OTA,

I presume you have repeatedly told your mom that you wish she would withhold herself from getting involved in your romantic affairs. If you haven’t, certainly start there! Chances are Mom won’t let up even if you say year after year how much you object to blind match-making. So, why not take a look at the situation from a different lens — from a sexological perspective!

This year, have a little fun. Do a reverse psychological experiment with Mom and tell her you love being set up. Whatever man your mom invites to Thanksgiving, embrace him with enthusiasm. Even if he’s not the top pick you would normally take home, this is a perfect opportunity to practice the art of flirting. Plus, there is no pressure to impress this guy, since you are already prepared to be uninterested in him. And who knows, maybe after an evening of sexy conversation, you just might be!

Dear Dr. Jenni,

I’m bringing my girlfriend home for the holidays. We’ve been together for eight months and have been having sex nearly the whole time, but my parents don’t know this. How do I negotiate the sleeping arrangements when we go home?

Sleepless In Maine

Dear SIM,

Unless you were brought up in a belief system of no sex before marriage, my guess is that your parents have a pretty good idea that you are having sex. If you want your own room to share with your girlfriend, then I suggest asking for it. And if it feels too embarrassing to ask, then perhaps you should reconsider your readiness to be having sex.

Then again, it might be fun to sleep in separate bedrooms to build the sexual tension. You can steal kisses in the hallway and caresses under the table. You can get up in the middle of the night and have a quick bout of oral sex in the backseat of the car. Take advantage of the forced separation to foster the sexual anticipation!

Dear Dr. Jenni,

I’m a gay 22-year-old man. I came out to my parents last year, and they initially struggled with the news. This year I want to bring my boyfriend home for the holidays, but I’m very nervous about making my parents uncomfortable. My boyfriend feels totally fine meeting them, but what if my parents freak out?

Anxious About Going Home

Dear AAGH,

Let them struggle. A parent’s job is to take care of the child, not the other way around. It may take some time for your parents to settle into the news, but don’t worry yourself with their process. Of course, if you haven’t had a conversation with them to let them know you are bringing him back for the holidays, get on that as soon as possible. During this chat, ask them how they feel about you bringing home a partner. Even if they express anxiety or unease, do your best to hear and validate their feelings, as that will make them more open and amenable to your wishes.

Keep in mind, though, that irrelevant of sexual orientation, bringing home a new romantic partner for the holidays is always somewhat stressful. Be grateful you have a boyfriend who is comfortable with the family gathering. And again, if your parents freak out, let them. You may need to be patient with them as they work through their fears. But in the meantime, enjoy your relationship with your boyfriend!

Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to drjenni@theintimacyinstitute.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.

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