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Why You Should Dump Someone Who’s Perfect for You

April 24, 2015


Dear Em & Lo,

I am 23 years old and A, my boyfriend of four years, and I are currently four months into a long-distance relationship until I graduate from my university this summer and move across the country to be with him. I recently connected with J, a guy that I was seeing five years ago. Back then, J and I never went any further than making out and never dated, since he graduated from our university soon after we met. We reconnected and I am really into him. I spend more time talking to J than A and we have a lot of things in common. One night and several drinks later, J and I ended up making out.

I have never cheated on my boyfriend before, but instead of feeling guilty about cheating on him, weeks later I can’t seem to get J off of my mind. I’ve been in two long-term relationships since I was 15 (the first boyfriend was for 3 years) and I haven’t been single for more than a few months since the time I’ve been allowed to date. A wants to propose and I’m not ready for it, but I don’t know how to tell him this without hurting him.

Overall, he is everything I want in a man, but he doesn’t know how to satisfy me sexually anymore and has gotten really lazy in the bedroom despite the fact that I tell him about this a lot. I also feel really inexperienced because I’ve only been with two guys my entire life.

How do I know my current fling with J isn’t just lust? Do I just have expiration dates on guys of about three to four years? How do you know if you should end a long relationship to move on?

– Torn

Dear Torn,

Let’s just review:

  • You’re 23.
  • You’re in college.
  • You’re in a long-distance relationship while you’re 23 and in college.
  • You feel like being with only two people makes you “inexperienced.”
  • You’ve never really been single.
  • Your boyfriend, who we’re assuming is also in his early 20s, has gotten lazy about sex?!?
  • You cheated and can’t stop thinking about the other guy.

This is an easy one: it’s time to break up (or at least take a break). You’ve got a lot of living to do and you certainly aren’t ready to get married. We’re not suggesting that there’s something inherently wrong with getting married young or with only being sexually intimate with two people — for some people, that works. But if the tone of your email is any indication, it’s not going to work for you…

Don’t feel pressured to stay in this relationship because you feel guilty about cheating, or because you feel like you’ve already invested so much time in this relationship, or because A is a great guy. He’s just not great for you — at least not right now.

The only fair thing to do — for both you and A — is to tell him you need to take a break from the relationship (which means the possibility of seeing other people, for both of you). He may break up with you right then and there. You guys may break up permanently in a few months. You might get back together ten months or ten years from now, when you’ve both dated other people and realized that you were in fact perfect for each other. Or maybe you’ll meet someone who convinces you that breaking up with A was the best thing you could have ever done. Maybe just being alone for a while will convince you of this. Just give yourself a chance to try something new.

Tough love,
Em & Lo


photo via flickr

Knowing When to Talk to Your Partner… Or Your Therapist

April 20, 2015

1 Comment

The following letter from a reader is really long. Like, really long. (And this is the abridged version!) But we’re publishing it here because we think it raises a really interesting, important question about relationships: How can you tell when you’re talking too much? And how can you tell when you need a therapist as well as just a partner to talk to?

For people who were blessed with a functional, happy childhood and/or stable mental health, the question probably doesn’t come up too often. But for people who are in therapy, or think they might need therapy, or who have come a long way in their life thanks to therapy, it’s an important question.

It’s easy to use a partner as a therapist. They’re free, for one thing! And they love you (one would hope), they have your back, and, unlike your therapist (again, one would hope), they can spoon you, too. But is there a line you shouldn’t cross when it comes to talking through problems? And how do you know where that line is? Is it a matter of content? Or is it simply a matter of how much time your partner spends listening vs talking?

Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below. Also, we highly recommend reading this letter we received, which does a great job of illuminating the way that this issue can rear its ugly head in relationships.

Dear Em & Lo,

A year ago, my first long term relationship of five years ended very badly. In retrospect, the relationship had a number of red flags early on. Both my partner and I had emotional issues due to abusive parenting. However, I now believe that my openness to explore these issues and receive therapy whilst in the relationship lead me to become the scapegoat for his problems, on top of trying to deal with my own. 

Towards the end it got very bad. I was trying hard to receive more help with my emotions, with a growing sense that “everything was my fault,” an idea that was supported by my ex-partner, who would diagnose me with mental health conditions that the doctor did not agree with. My ex once showed me a letter he’d written to his dad in which he declared himself to be a “full-time carer to a partner with clinical depression.” This was a couple of years after I had got back to living life following acute OCD and depression (due to two abortions I’d had, encouraged by my ex). My doctor had just clarified that he did not feel I was suffering with clinical depression. My ex-partner was definitely not a full-time carer for me.

Since our breakup I have found such reserves of strength in myself that I didn’t know existed. I have developed some amazing friendships, the kind that were belittled by my ex, and I have just completed my second course of CBT. The therapy was aimed at food-related psychological problems, however, we ended up talking a lot about boundaries, assertiveness and my unwritten rules developed as a child in an abusive environment. I can see that many of these issues had become huge problems in my last relationship, as I had little understanding of boundaries, and experienced a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty throughout the relationship. I have been working to instil the belief that my feelings are important too, as survivors of abuse can typically learn to overlook their own feelings in order to navigate the feelings of their abusers, in order to check for signs of danger, or other people’s mood changes. This has been all been helpful, and I feel stronger, more positive and able to care for myself in a way that is new and exciting for me. The therapy ended last week, and my therapist has discharged me with a recommendation to my doctor that I would be suitable for further therapy, as we couldn’t go too deep in our sessions. She has praised me for working hard and making progress by using the sessions well, which is heart warming, as she has correctly identified how much of an important journey it is for me to work towards self-love and self-support.

Recently I decided to open myself up to dating again, and over the past two months I have been building a new romantic relationship. Early on we were very open about our emotions and history, which feels really good to me, and he has observed my need to be open and talk about how I feel in great detail. We do have a lovely time but he has explained that he feels like he is in therapy with me, and that he can’t feel as many moments of effortless joy and relaxation that he would like in a relationship. It is early on in this relationship and I feel I have been displaying an excess of hyper-vigilance because the foundations are not set. I do have anxiety about not looking after myself, ending up in an abusive dynamic and not reading signals properly, which I am beginning to regard as hyper-vigilance. This can come through in behaviours such as being hot-headed and reactionary, even though I am aiming to be calm and assertive. Talking really helps, as when I can understand little things that my partner is experiencing that affect his mood, I can relax to know that it is not my fault.¬†

It is becoming clear to me that I would like to be with a partner who is comfortable with the level of work that I have done and will continue to actively do with myself. In my mind, this is beginning to translate as someone who has a good understanding, or experience of, self-awareness, or therapy, and is someone that is working towards their most positive self, with whatever issues they might harbour. I would like to be with someone who shares and understands my need to communicate, yet I would also like to pursue strategies for myself in how to deal with my hyper-vigilance, and to manage healthy boundary awareness, in order to minimise over-communication, emotional exhaustion and burn-out, which I feel I may be guilty of.

For the time being, I am not afraid of being alone in order to do more work on myself, however, I am also aware, since this recent relationship, that some of the work I would like to do on myself might only come up in a close intimate relationship. Right now I plan to keep loving myself, being kind, journaling thoughts and feelings, taking care of my body and continuing to apply the boundary and assertion ideas recently taught to me.

Is my dream of finding a partner who can accept me as I am unrealistic?¬†How do I navigate the issues that I experience, and my history, with a partner?¬†Should I seek more therapy now, or wait until I “need” it?¬†Which kind of therapy might be best for the issues I have raised?

– Saffy

What do you think: How can you tell when you’re talking¬†too¬†much in a relationship? And how can you tell when you need a therapist as well as just a partner to talk to?¬†Have¬†you been on either side of this situation yourself? Share¬†your thoughts in the comments¬†section¬†below.¬†


Your Call: Should I Have a Fling with My Long-Distance Boss?

April 13, 2015


We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!


Dear Em & Lo,

I recently got out of a 3 1/2 year relationship. For the last year, our sex-life was basically non-existant, so now that I am “free” I am horny as hell.

A couple of weeks ago I got back from a business trip where I met a fascinating guy. He works in another branch of the company and lives 400 miles away, but technically he is my boss/ superior at work. Lots of flirting occurred and was followed up by a heavy make out session on our last evening. However, nothing more happened because I was still in the middle of my breakup.

Since I got back, we have been emailing or texting almost daily, and now he has invited me to come visit him for a few days in summer. He has made it quite clear that he is not the relationship type, needs his space and generally doesn’t do long distance, but that is fine by me. Right now, I am not interested in a relationship and am actually enjoying being “just me” for a while. I just love the way he makes me feel…

Most of me really wants to go and just have an amazing sexy weekend together, but I can’t help thinking that I am playing with fire here. In the fall we will be going abroad on another business trip together for six weeks to work on a project that is very important for my career. Am I being incredibly stupid, putting my career at risk with this fling? What if the chemistry we felt fizzles once we spend some days one on one? Is there a way I can avoid future awkwardness with a pre-emptive conversation? What do I say? “Promise me whatever happens this weekend won’t affect our professional relationship” sounds pretty lame and I doubt it will change anything…. On the other hand, backing out now seems pretty awkward as well, and I’m not sure how to do it elegantly….¬†

I don’t feel I can talk to my friends about this because my breakup is so new and everybody loved the ex… Please help me solve this mess!

– Boss or Bail?

What should BoB do? Leave advice for her in the comments section below.



What to Do When You Like a Guy… Until You See His Penis

April 10, 2015


photo via flickr

Yes, yes, we know. This advice question will make a lot of people — especially men — mad. We almost didn’t publish it for this reason! But we felt it our duty to set this woman straight. Feel free to weigh in below, in the comments section, but let’s keep it classy, people! And if you have your own question to ask us, submit it here.

Dear Em & Lo,
About six months ago I broke up with my boyfriend of 18 months and have recently met someone new. The other day the new boy and I were engaging in some hands-on action which led me to discover that he nowhere near measures up to my ex. The new boy was around 4-6″. My problem is that I’m really worried about having sex with him because my ex was over 8″. I feel really disappointed and I know that 8″ is a high bar that’s been set. Am I bad person or should I go looking for something more? Why can’t good-looking men come with the measurements of their penis tattooed onto their wrist or something? The problems and surprises that would solve..

Dear Sizeist,

We almost didn’t print your letter because of the emotional damage it might inflict on insecure men everywhere. It’s the secret fear that everyone — male and female — experiences at some point in their hook-up life: Am I being compared to their ex(es)? And if so, am I failing to measure up?

But on behalf of all the average-sized men out there, i.e. the vast majority of men, we think you should give Mr. 4-6″ a chance. It’s not like you’ve dated a string of 8″ men and have discovered that only a super-sized schlong can satisfy you. (In fact, you need to understand that, statistically speaking, 8 inches is freakishly long). No, you just had one great experience with one 8″ penis. And this is by no means a guarantee that sex with a 4-6″ penis will feel only 50-75% as great.

For a start, men with big swinging dicks can get lazy in the sack, assuming that size is the only thing that matters. They may also assume that intercourse is the only thing that matters — and we all know how few women climax from intercourse alone; remember, orgasm achieved through non-penile means still counts as sex! Not to mention, you may suddenly discover new penetration positions that you really enjoy — positions that perhaps were not so comfortable with a larger specimen. Oh, and don’t forget that, when it comes to size, most women agree that girth is a lot more important than length, since the majority of sensation is felt in the outer third of the vagina, thanks to the extensions of the clitoris, the g-spot, and the pelvic floor muscles around the lower part of the vaginal canal (and also since a lot of women don’t enjoy having their cervix rammed).

On a final note: Maybe he was nervous and not fully inflated, as it were. Basically, you have no idea what sex is going to be like with this man. So if you dig him (and we surely hope the handwork you exchanged means that you do), why not find out whether the motion of his ocean can get the job done?

Of course, we can’t discount the fact that you may simply be less attracted to him (or not attracted to him at all) now that you’ve scoped out his unit — you like what you like.¬† This doesn’t make you a bad person, though you are severely limiting your dating options — at least until your tattoo idea catches on. We suppose you could post a personal ad specifying that only 8″-penis-owners need reply, but something tells us that’s not exactly the way to find the next Boyfriend of the Year. Here’s a better idea: Why not just spend some quality time with an average-sized penis and see if the experience converts you?

Here for the little people,

Em & Lo


Your Call: I Almost Climax Just Thinking About a Date, Is This Normal?

April 6, 2015


We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. 


Dear Em & Lo, 

I’m a 22-year-old female and I find it very strange that every time I plan to see my boyfriend, I experience near climaxing experiences on my own without anything initiating it. They begin one after the other, and I physically have to stop them. Is that normal? This has happened with every guy I dated, even if we are not going to have sex.

– Eager Beaver

Do you have any words of wisdom for, or stories to share with, Eager Beaver? Leave your suggestions for her in the comments section below. 


Why You Have to Tell Your Partner If You Have HPV

March 27, 2015


 photo via flickr

Many experts, including doctors, will tell women that they don’t need to inform their male partners if they have HPV. The reason given is that 80% of sexually-active adults have or will acquire HPV — in other words, basically everyone — and also, the virus is much less likely to harm a guy’s health.

Our own medical expert, Dr. Kate, happens to disagree, and you can read her professional explanation here. And our man-parts doctor also has something to say about men and HPV — it’s not guaranteed smooth sailing.

And we happen to disagree too! Here’s our laywomen’s response to why you should fess up if you have HPV:

Everyone has the right to know what they’re getting into when they’re getting into bed with you. It doesn’t matter how pervasive an STD is, how inconsequential it might turn out to be, or how likely it is that you’ll eventually get it (or that you already have it) — everyone deserves to know the truth. So if you know you’ve got something, you’ve got to come clean (as it were). Fucking is not a right, it’s a privilege, and you’ve got to earn that privilege via honest communication about your bod and where it’s been. We’re pretty sure any one of the New York Times ethicists would have our back on this.

If more people fessed up to their sexual health status, then we’d all know a little more about the pervasive STDs that affect us — and probably not be so freaked out. Knowledge is power, and power is sexy. The more we all talk about it, the more it will become clear that it’s not only dirty, promiscuous, evil people who get STDs (such a tired yet stubborn cliche) — many totally cool, super nice and very good-looking people get sexually transmitted infections, too.

Unfortunately, honest communication isn’t always the quickest route to sex or even love. So people get scared into concealing an STD out of fear of loneliness (or horniness). Don’t fall into this trap: Even though it doesn’t feel like it when you first get diagnosed with something, you will have sex again. You will fall in love and you’ll probably get married, have a couple kids, the whole nine.

And please, if any of you happen to be on the receiving end of a conversation like this, be cool about it. Honest Abes should be rewarded for their behavior — not with unprotected genital-to-genital contact, natch, but at least with a polite, considerate, and sympathetic response. Of course, it’s your right to walk away (just don’t run). But know this: Many STDs are either curable, or at least manageable. So if you choose to turn your back, you could be turning it on your one true soulmate and walking into a future of eternal solitude.


In Defense of Sex Toys, Feminism and Trolls

March 25, 2015


For the most part, we tend to ignore the trolls. But every once in a while, outlandish claims need to be addressed to ensure that reality-based facts win over fear, insecurity and hate. In response to a post about a woman whose inability to orgasm without a sex toy was hurting her boyfriend’s feelings, one commenter recently made some particularly ridiculous, utterly unhelpful statements — we break them down, one by one, below (without his, shall we say, colorful language).

Claim: Sex toys make women loose.
Reality:¬†It’s pretty much the opposite.¬†The vagina is not a cheap sock that goes limp with repeated use. It expands and contracts with arousal. The perineal muscles which surround it help maintain its integrity. So the more pleasure the area receives, with say a sex toy, the more workout those muscles get, the stronger they’ll be, and thus the more supportive they are of the area, the tighter they can contract, and the more responsive they become to stimulation. Win-win-win!

Claim: Men don’t want to be with women who use sex toys.
Reality: Smart people know that women who use sex toys are comfortable with their own sexuality, better understand how their bodies are built and work, know what they like, and are more successfully orgasmic — all things that make for better partner-sex. Men who are comfortable with their own sexuality will use sex toys with their partners for variety and fun without feeling threatened. Which is not to say that dangling a toy with “realistic” aesthetic details but “unrealistic” proportions in front of one’s self-conscious male partner is polite — in fact, it’s the epitome of insensitive rudeness. But a woman who uses her favorite toy, discretely if feelings require it, while finding some other accessory she and her partner can¬†both enjoy can only improve their sex life.

Claim: Your vulva/vagina is your male partner’s property. AND:¬†Men only like women for their genitals.
Reality: Do we even have to address this? It’s so tiresome, so transparent. We get it. You long for a time when men ruled the world, and women were their sex slaves. And now it kind of sucks that you have to deal with this upwardly mobile class of people who now have rights and power, often more power than you. And so, in a desperate attempt to slow down the inevitable rise of this group, you try to take them down a peg or two by insulting them. Are you twelve? It’s been quite a while, at least in this country, since women were married off as property. Yes, human rights are actually a good thing. Please acknowledge all the happy, well-adjusted grown-up men around you who interact, work, fall in love and/or have sex with women they view, value and respect as equal human beings. Both men and women are multi-dimensional — it’s not all about intercourse.

Claim: Sex toys make it harder for women to reach orgasm.
Reality: Many women require clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm. Unfortunately, it’s another of Mother Nature’s cruel jokes that the jackhammering many men prefer during intercourse avoids contact with the clitoris altogether. Add to that the great variability among women with how their genitals operate and respond to stimuli; the atrocious state of sexual education in this country; the pervasiveness of male-centric, unrealistic porn; the still-rampant sexism in our country which shames women’s sexuality and limits their sexual agency¬†(Exhibit A: your comment)¬†– and it’s a miracle women can orgasm at all! They need all the help they can get; sex toys offer that help. And often times, once a sex toy can finally get them to their happy place, they’re better equipped to experiment with other ways to find satisfaction, both alone and with a partner.

Dear Commenter, we condemn the straight woman (or women) who hurt, belittled or shamed you. They are not representative of our entire gender. Just as they should not speak ill or dismissively of the male member (as we’re assuming they did), neither should you speak so ill of women’s genitals. Both men and women, gay or straight or transgendered, are so much more than the sum of their sexual body parts. The more we all start thinking about sex with our heads instead of our junk, with our hearts instead of our hatred, the better we’ll all get along, both in and out of the bedroom. Here’s hoping you find someone who can love you for you, and vice versa.


Your Call: I Was Bi, But Now I’m Not Attracted to Men. What Happened?

March 23, 2015


photo via Wikimedia Commons

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
Advice Service!


Dear Em & Lo,

I’m a 21 year old woman who realized she was bisexual about a year ago, but recently my sexual desire for men has disappeared. My sex drive is fine, and my attraction to women is still there, but I don’t feel anything for men any more.

I’ve asked my mother and some friends, and they said it could be because I’ve been heavily depressed, but I’ve been clinically depressed for years and it hasn’t affected me that way at all. And, as I said, I’m still attracted to women — in fact my attraction to women has increased.

Was I just a lesbian all along? Do all bisexuals go through phases? I’ve been like this for weeks, and I’m worried I’ll never love men again.

– Bye-Bi Birdie

What’s your advice for Bye-Bi Birdie? Leave your thoughts in the feedback section below.



Your Call: My Husband and I Don’t Care That We Don’t Have Much Sex. Should We?

March 16, 2015


photo via Flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
Advice Service!



Dear Em & Lo,

My husband and I have been married for ten years. Three kids later, we don’t have sex very often — nothing compared to our pre-married life. But neither of us seems that bothered by it. He doesn’t initiate that often and isn’t asking for more. I’m fine with the occasional sex we do have. I know we both occasionally masturbate, him I’m guessing more (we don’t advertise it to each other). I feel like we have a close, trusting relationship. But I’m always hearing about how sex is such an important part of a relationship. If it isn’t for us, should we be worried? Should I be worried?

– Libidoless in Los Angeles

What should LILA do? Leave your advice in the comments section below.




What to Do When You Say “I Love You” Too Soon

March 13, 2015


Hi Em & Lo,

I just started dating this guy and recently we were making out, it was going well, he started to go down on me. I wanted to tell him “I love it when you go down on me” but it came out as ” I love you..when you do that.” He paused for a second and just continued. I felt like such a dork!¬† The thing is, I know I don’t love this guy. We’re a new thing and I like him, but not that way. What do you when you get yourself tangled up in situations like this?

– Mortified

Dear Morty,

You dig a hole in the sand and bury your head in it for a few weeks until the humiliation wears off. At least, that’s what you wish you could do when you get yourself tangled up in a situation like this. Here are four real-world options for people in these circumstances (though, sadly, since the moment has no passed, they won’t all apply to you):

  1. In the moment: You could laugh it off right then and there. Joke that you swear that wasn’t a Freudian slip, just an innocent slip of the tongue. “Oh my god, total slip of the tongue! Nothing to worry about, carry on, carry on.” Pros: You allay any of his fears right then and there, so they don’t snowball into bad sex or a premature breakup. Cons: You interrupt the sexual moment, which might throw some people (or their penises) for a loop, and risk protesting too much, turning an already awkward situation into a painful one (painful like the answering machine scene in Swingers).
  2. Immediately after the sex: As you’re both lying there, catching your breath, or putting your clothes back on, you lightheartedly say, “Remember what I said when you were going down on me? Yeah, that was just a genuine slip of the tongue — I meant to say ‘I love it when you go down on me’ — so you don’t have to worry about me wanting you to meet my parents or move in anytime soon.” Pros: It doesn’t interrupt the sex, and you nip any concerns in the bud pretty quickly. Cons: Again, you run the risk of sounding defensive, as well as insincere, like you got caught up in the moment and spoke your heart’s true feelings but now that the emotion and hormones of sex aren’t as intense, your brain is trying to rewrite history.
  3. Several dates later: You randomly bring it up when you’re in a non-sexual situation, laughing about how funny and awkward that slip of the tongue was: “Oh man, do you remember on one of our first dates, when I was trying to say ‘I love it when you do that’ and it came out ‘I love you when you do that’? Yeah, that was pretty funny. So glad you didn’t take that to heart.” Pros: Getting some distance from the event allows you to reminisce about it as if you both realized in the moment that it was an awkward slip of the tongue. In this case, you almost can rewrite history. Cons: He may have forgotten it by now, so reminding him just makes things awkward all over again. Or maybe what you said really warmed him up to you and now you’re almost insulting him by telling him you don’t love him and suggesting you never will.
  4. Now to eternity: Just don’t bring it up ever. Let him think that he misheard you and let sleeping dogs lie. And from now on, choose your words more wisely. Pros: You don’t really have to do anything. Cons: He may continue to think that you’re in love with him.

Any of these options could work, so long as they’re employed with a good sense of humor and an air of lightheartedness. Act like it’s not that big of a deal, and it won’t be.

We’re the best…Uh, we mean, we wish you the best,
Em & Lo