I want to have sex about twice as often as my boyfriend does. We’ve been together for seven years; I am 32 and he’s 37, so it’s not like we’re aged. Don’t men think about sex every seven seconds?—Leigh
They are “supposed” to, but they don’t. That seven-seconds thing is way outdated; an Ohio State University study concluded that the average man (hilarious concept) thinks about sex something like 19 times a day, not 8,000. This eternal idea that adult men are like unfixed dogs, beholden to an endless sexual furor, is bad news for both guys and the girls who like them.
Your boyfriend is pushing 40 and in a long-term relationship, and while that doesn’t have to mean anything in particular about his virility or drive, it does seem to mean that he’s less inclined to track and hunt you around your 700-square feet of domesticity and excitedly spear your sleepwear while you’re flossing. You know?
Losing interest in sex is something usually assigned to women, but when a guy reaches the sandy banks on the other side of the River Old, he might become newly preoccupied with “relaxing” as a first-choice non-obligation activity. Even if your boyfriend might once have chosen to careen through the venues of his social life in pursuit of sex and fun, he could need those things in different amounts and varieties now.
What you should do about it is nothing, really. If you’re so into sex that you notice (without some subtle relief) when your boyfriend falls asleep on the couch, then you’re also the kind of girl who already knows anything I could tell you about keeping it interesting with new approaches, scenarios, or toys. Go on vacation, together or alone, and you’ll get laid a lot when you’re gone or when you’re back; decide on some corny physical activity you can do together; designate a few nights a week as technology-, distraction-, and other-people-free. Even if you don’t get more sex, you’ll have more fun.
From partying to relationships to work, my sister has never been smart about life choices. I don’t bail her out as much anymore, and she knows not to ask, but I still give her advice. She says that I’m not being supportive.—Joseph
Well, you’re half way there. Joanna Seidel, a Toronto-based therapist who works with adult family members, says, “You don’t want to engage in any behaviour that will keep her behaviour going.” Being supportive of your sister without supporting her shit—like letting her stay at your house, but not waking her up so she’ll be on time for work—is smart and self-respectful.
Offering advice is either arrogant (hi!) or part of your role in her life. Regardless, it’s your sister’s job to evaluate how to use your opinions, and it’s your job to “remain available as someone to talk to,” Seidel says, but “in a way that’s not parenting.” Instead of being authoritative, be explorative: ask questions and learn how your sister’s feeling. Say, “I notice you’ve been hurt a lot in the past year,” rather than “Your exes are shitty.”
What it means to “support” anyone whom you love but whose choices you routinely disagree with is the hardest. I’m pretty sure that 50 per cent of couples I know should break up (and spend more time with me!), but that’s because my metrics of what is “good” versus “bad,” and my outsider perspective on any relationship, is going to be super-skewed. Other people’s ideas of what other people should do are, just like that, going to be mired in assumptions, bias, or projections.
All that considered, the best move is to STFU, listen, and wait like a helpful snake in the grass, then only explain how you think they’re wrong (nicely!) when you are specifically asked for your opinion. That’s the time when the onus is on you, as the sister, friend, whomever, to be okay with laying it out (very nicely!) without holding back.
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