Between You and Me Part 21 coming in hot! This month sees us chatting commitment issues and the seven-year itch (read: 3-4 years in this case), dream jobs that just so happen to feel a lot like hell, dipping your toes back into dating post-pandemic, boyfriend separation anxiety and keeping sex exciting whilst dealing with sexual trauma and vaginismus.
If you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment and need to get it off your chest, drop us an email at email@example.com – because sometimes it’s just easier to share it with strangers on the internet than with those closest to you.
Hello lovely! As both an SA victim and someone who experiences Vulvodynia on a daily basis I read this and just felt SO MUCH empathy and love for you. Firstly, you are so strong. I really hope you’re able to acknowledge that. And secondly, you’re doing a fabulous, fabulous job- I promise. Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
It can be really hard to find things that feel good whilst also being safe for you when you’ve got these health and trauma issues to consider, but don’t fear because there truly is so much you can explore on this journey to feeling empowered and positive in the bedroom both alone and with a partner. First off, have you experimented with toys at all? They’re not only great to help you feel 10/10 on your own (which can sometimes be a good first step if you’re anxious with a partner touching you) but are also a fun way for you and your boyfriend to explore pleasure together in a new way. Brands like Smile Makers, Biird and Love Honey are amazing and have so much to offer that doesn’t require penetration as I know that can be tricky when it comes to Vaginismus sometimes.
Masturbating together with your boyfriend could also be incredible and empower you to take back a bit of control in touching yourself and reconnecting with your body whilst also both having a good time. Maybe watch some Normal People or Bridgerton (or check out our ethical porn post for GR8 website recommendations!) and get touchy in bed together- it could even be good foreplay before easing into sex if you’re feeling able on that day! Here’s a few other things you could try to spice things up that would hopefully feel safe for you:
A sensual/sexy bath or shower together. I’m thinking oils, massages and bubbles.
Explore other parts of each other’s body that feel safer, for example your boobs, neck kissing or even massaging your back can be v v sexyyyy.
Have some fun with food e.g. chocolate icing or ice cream (temperature play too!) and tongues- a winner for all involved.
Butt stuff. Side eye emoji. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
I hope this helps lovely and remember you are whole exactly as you are.
Thank you so much for writing in, I think this is a great question that I know many people struggle with. Also, you are so bloody strong, and I hope you know that!
I struggle with psychosomatic issues with sex, just due to not feeling like I’ve had the most enjoyable experiences and body image has always played a part too, so I can understand from a vaginismus point of view as I can experience pain during sex which can make penetration not possible / difficult. I think finding what you like on your own first could be super empowering for you, are you experienced at all in using toys? I think clitoral stimulant only toys are good for people who don’t enjoy / can’t do penetration. Smile Makers have a really great range which really focus on clitoral pleasure, I think knowing our own bodies is so essential to having great sex with partners. If you are an experienced toy user and are thinking “I know all this already” ha, then I reckon explore different areas of your body that feel comfortable but pleasurable. We have so many different spots on the body which can give us pleasure; neck, ears, feet, hands, inner thighs, the list goes on! Maybe explore this yourself and then get your boyfriend involved when you have figured out what feels good and safe and what doesn’t?
Different forms of sexual stimulants (lol) like audio porn are good to try too! Quinn is a good app and it’s proven that most women prefer audio porn to video porn as we like to use our imagination more. You could even listen together and maybe see what it provokes? Masturbating together is a great way to enjoy sex together while feeling comfortable as well especially with your past sexual trauma, feeling comfortable and safe is most important over anyone else’s sexual pleasure. I think just experiment, experiment, experiment (with things you are comfortable doing of course!). Sex is so different for so many people and I think that’s the beauty in it as it can be so personal between you and your partner, finding what works best for you both as a pair. I hope this sparks some inspo for you! All the best, Darcey Xx
Heya! I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this inner turmoil, not knowing whether or not you are ready for taking that commitment to the next level can be torture. What’s the rush with getting married? I understand if your partner is extremely set on it, but have you thought that could be the blocker you’re trying to avoid? Maybe getting married and committing yourself to just one person doesn’t really jive with you and that’s ok. I think far too much pressure is put on us to have one relationship for the rest of our lives but maybe you’re more suited to short-term partners? Or perhaps you might consider being on your own for a bit, finding your own happiness and then you can find whomever you like attractive! It must be frustrating to feel like you’re stuck in a rut but perhaps it’s becoming a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that you think it’s going to happen so it does. How would you feel if your partner broke up with you tomorrow? Would you be ok seeing them go, or heartbroken? It sounds like you’re getting bored, maybe you need to be a bit more open and honest with your current partner and work at the relationship, it seems like that’s the person that stands to get hurt the most through all of this, and having a string of broken-hearted partners behind you, it might be worth getting some therapy and have them help you re-frame a few things in your relationships.
If the issue is simply finding other people attractive, I don’t think it’s that deep. You’re always going to appreciate a good-looking person, regardless of whether you’re single or in a relationship that’s just the fundamentals of being a social creature. However, if it becomes more than a fleeting thought and you’re thinking about acting on those feelings and being unfaithful, then that’s probably a bit of a red flag. I guess you really need to take a deep dive into these doubts and figure out where they’re coming from, particularly as you’ve had this 3 – 4 year itch before. Perhaps it’s marriage thing that’s throwing you off and you’re not ready to take that step, or maybe monogamy just isn’t for you and after a few back-to-back serious relationships, you need to have some single fun for a while to explore other things. That said, like friendships, every relationship takes work, you have to be intentional about keeping things fresh and exciting and not just assume it will tend to itself. It’s also very possible that you haven’t met your person yet! Only you can get to the bottom of why you’re stuck in this rut but better to be honest with yourself and your partner because all the while you’re feeling like this, you’ve emotionally checked out of your relationship anyway. Best of luck with whatever you decide my love! Life’s too short to be stuck in something that doesn’t set your soul on fire, whether it’s a job, a relationship or a situationship xx
Hey, thanks for your message and opening up about how you’re feeling. It’s been such a tough couple of years hasn’t it. The multiple lockdowns and isolation periods that we’ve all been through have been such a mental struggle and I think it’s completely normal that you’re feeling like you might be ready for a relationship having gone through all of that without the support of a partner. In fact i think it’s highly possible that the pandemic has expedited your want for a relationship because it’s been such an isolating time. The positives are that the world does seem to be opening up again, all of the things you said you enjoyed before are possible now and i would encourage you to go back to doing the things you love if you feel safe to do so. 26 is still incredibly young and you have so much life ahead of you to find the perfect partner. Although i know it’s easier said than done, try to not think of it as “searching” for someone, the more you get out there and enjoy life the more chances you will have to meeting someone new and sparking new relationships. You will not be alone forever, situations and circumstances change in a matter of days and there will be millions of other people feeling the exact way you’re feeling now, ready to meet someone new. I hope you find what you’re looking for, lots of love, M.
Hi anon! Thank you for writing in and I can really empathise with you as someone who is also single and liking the idea of dating, but worried about Covid and living with vulnerable people, it’s a real tricky area isn’t it! Also very much agree that socialising can be exhausting, and it feels like people are just out and about 24/7 now. Also ditto on dating apps (are we the same person? Lol) I don’t particularly like them either, especially Tinder, why do we even bother on there because I truly don’t think I’ll be finding a future partner on that app!
I totally get the wanting to have a partner, especially after these last few years when times have been super isolating. I think though if you are feeling anxious about covid still maybe taking some time to focus on you would be good? You said before covid you were happily single and enjoying doing stuff on your own, I wonder if maybe trying to get back to that place again first (with covid in the mix now) would be beneficial. Maybe not gigs or large events, but museums etc! Finding yourself again after these crazy two years might be a good steppingstone, especially if you’d rather meet someone a bit more organically. What I do know is, you won’t be alone forever! You’ll find someone, I think a lot of single people feel like covid has delayed them meeting someone, but it will happen.
One dating app I can (just about) bear is Hinge, I find it is way nicer than Tinder which feels a bit like a looks contest, Hinge has prompts with talking points and I’d say a large majority of people on there are looking for relationships and not just hook-ups. You can also say if you are vaccinated or not so maybe dating people you know are fully vaccinated might make you more comfortable? Covid is an ever-changing situation and I totally appreciate how dating can feel scary when living with vulnerable people, I think just consider that if dating and meeting new people is making you anxious, maybe now isn’t the right time. That’s not to say though that in a few months that could all change, but I know for me I’ve concluded dating just isn’t for me now. You’ll find that happiness one day, I’m sure of it. All the best, Darcey Xx
Hello love, it sounds like you’re having a really rough time with it but I want you to know you’ll get through this, and even though work is such a big part of our lives, as soon as you move on from this job it’ll be a distant memory. I’ve had my fair share of toxic work environments and yours sounds extremely familiar, it’s such an old school terrible way of doing business where people at the bottom need to earn their stripes doing grunt work before anyone takes them seriously. Now I’ll admit an entry-level marketing job might be more admin based than you’d hoped, but you should still feel like you can make a change and submit ideas without being mocked or made to feel like you shouldn’t. Personally, I would get a new job ASAP. Search high and low for another marketing role and get out as soon as you can, I know you probably feel like your confidence has had a huge knock, but you got this job and you can get another. Don’t rush into thinking every company will be like yours, you just need to find the right one for you, sometimes things don’t work out and your family will understand that. You want to get to a point where you’re happy enough in your day job you can start your passion project again, and I really think you’ll get there! On a slightly different note, you might want to consider working in content and social media, it’s a little more hands-on, you’d be able to hone your photography and video skills whilst doing your day job and you’ll also be getting the marketing side of things as you build strategies for platforms and ads, just a path worth exploring if you’re seeking a new opportunity!
Well doesn’t this sound like quite the little toxic work environment. I’m sorry to hear you’re having a time of it, that sounds horrendous. No wonder you’re feeling stressed and exhausted. No one wants to be in a job where they feel like they’re constantly walking on eggshells and every idea you put forward is shot down for no apparent reason.
If you’re feeling like this after two months, I think that’s a pretty good indication that this isn’t the role for you. If I were you, I would sit tight for a few months if you can purely to bide your time and work on this side hustle photography business whilst you’re still financially sound. Get that ball rolling whilst you’re still in this role so that you can chuck your notice in and get the hell out of there. As for your family – they will quickly get over any expectations they had of this dream job for you, especially if they know it’s impacting your mental and physical health. No job is worth that! Let’s be frank, it’s turned out to be the opposite of a dream job and they wouldn’t want to see you sticking it out purely because they were excited and had high hopes for your new venture. They will be proud of you for standing your ground, knowing your worth and being true to yourself. Get working on that business plan, pal. You’ve got this!
Hello! Thanks so much for sharing how you’re feeling- I think it’s really great that you’ve been able the pinpoint and understand these feelings and actually used the word ‘attached’ because that’s a really helpful way to look at it and understand the bond you have with your boyfriend. If you haven’t already heard of attachment styles then it might be something to have a Google about, but essentially it’s the different ways we relate and connect with other people and is particularly relevant when it comes to romantic relationships. Past experiences, relationships and particularly our childhood history can impact the type of attachment style we have, and can lead some people to have a more anxious or insecure attachment which means we rely on other people for the stability we can’t find within ourself and place a bigger emphasis on the role they play for us. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing and often makes us really big and bold with our love and the people we want to spend time with, but it might explain why you feel so connected and whole when you’re with your partner and so sad when he’s gone.
As Maddie also highlighted I do think it’s totally normal to miss your partner and crave time together when you love them, because that’s what being in love is all about, but if you can make some little changes and implement habits that encourage more inner stability and happiness I think it would make the world of difference for you. Make plans during the time you know you’ll be apart from your boyfriend so you’re not moping around, connect with old (or new!) friends, fill up your social calendar and spend some time reconnecting with how whole you are as an individual, without the need for anyone else too. It’s always lovely spending time with people you adore but being able to enjoy time alone is so valuable and will get you such a long way. I used to be exactly the same when I had a boyfriend and would want to experience everything together, but since being single I’ve realised the value I have as an individual and all that I can achieve and feel on my own too. Jo Westwood aka The Codependency Coach on Insta is GREAT for learning more about this and making some positive daily habits feel achievable. You got this girl, I promise!
Hi lovely, thanks for your question and for taking the time to write to us. I think what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal. Missing someone you care about and feeling sad when they’re not around is a sign that you genuinely really love spending time with them. Time also tends to fly when you’re having fun, another sign that you’re enjoying your relationship which is positive. What it sounds like you need to work on is enjoying the things that don’t involve your boyfriend so that you don’t feel so lost without him being around. I think sometimes we can get so caught up in a relationship that you stop focusing on yourself and what makes you happy outside of that. Think about what made you happy before your relationship started. Was it spending time with your friends/family, a hobby, passion or interest etc. It’s very easy to forget some of those things when you fall in love as all your attention and free time focuses in on one person which can leave you to feel a bit empty when they’re not around. If I were you i would work on the other things outside of your relationship a bit more, the more time and energy you spend on yourself and not just your boyfriend the more content you will feel when you are apart. I hope you start to feel better soon!