Every day, porn star and University of Southern California journalism grad student Tasha Reign wakes up to a curious string of emails from her fans, a devoted group of men and women she lovingly refers to as “Reigndeer.” Said Reigndeer ask her questions — so many questions — about her perspectives on sex, love, relationships and life itself, and as someone who’s had more firsthand experience in these areas than four average adult women combined, she’s become uniquely up to the task of answering them. Every Friday then, Tasha will select a few of these questions and grace us with her insight, advice and expert wisdom in the hopes that she can help you fuck long and prosper.
This girl I’m seeing gets super pissed when she sees me liking photos of other women on Instagram. Some of these women are my friends and others are strangers, but I’m not liking them to “hit on them” or anything, I’m merely enjoying their photos. She wants me to unfriend a lot of these people, which is a new level of jealousy for me. Should I do what she says?
This is a question that really resonates with me because it’s exactly the sort of thing that pops into most people’s heads when they’re stalking their significant other online (which pretty much all of us do). Are they liking other people’s photos because they’re into them, or are they just brainlessly scrolling and hitting “like” because that’s what people do on social media now? Usually, it’s the latter, but the fear of the former keeps some people hyper-vigilant around their partner’s social media use, which can create a lot of tension like what you’re experiencing now.
Here’s the thing — a little jealousy is natural. Some people even find it attractive in controlled, low-level doses (key word: “some”). However, the level of envy you’re talking about would definitely be a red flag for me. She appears to be trying to regulate what seems to be some rather inoffensive, non-threatening behavior, which isn’t a great sign (nor is asking you to unfriend your friends).
It’s totally normal — healthy, even — to admire the faces and bodies of friends and other people you’re not dating (also, people put enough damn work into posing and editing their photos that they deserve a couple hundred likes for it). Doing so is just part of being human — as members of the species Homo erectus, we appreciate beauty. As such, we often find people other than our partners attractive. That does not, in any way, mean we think any less of the people we’re dating or that we’re secretly plotting some diabolical cheating escapade to sabotage our relationship — all it means is that we like the way someone else looks or who they are as people. That, in and of itself, doesn’t have to be as threatening as she seems to be making it.
You say many of these people are your friends, too so I’d imagine if you’re being as responsible and well-intentioned as you say you are, that you liking their photos is just a way to show support and friendship. For those reasons, I’m personally 100 percent comfortable with my boyfriend liking other women’s pics, even if they’re super hot — he’s just being a human who exists online. As long as he’s honest with me about his intentions, we’re cool.
So if I were you, I’d sit down and have a conversation with her about this. Try to hear her out and really listen to what she’s saying, because it’s likely that in her mind, her requests are totally valid. Then process what she tells you for a few hours or days before you respond with your take. There are two reasons I like the “tell, then process” method. One, it might help you to understand where she’s coming from if you really take the time to listen to what she’s saying (or not saying). Two, it’ll give you a bit of time to think about whether you want to deal with this level of jealousy moving forward.
Generally speaking, people are really only this jealous when they’re trying to compensate for something they don’t like about themselves. They’re insecure, they feel unworthy or something has happened to them that’s damaged their trust. If you’re invested in the relationship, try to help her identify and come to terms with what these things might be, because as much as I hate to say it, this issue seems like it’s more about her than you (again, I’m assuming you’re acting as innocently as you say you are). In some cases, people are also irrationally jealous because they did something shady and are just trying to cover it up by pointing the finger at you, so ask her if there’s anything she might be projecting onto you as well.
If she doesn’t want to examine herself or her reactions to get to the bottom of why she’s so envious with you, it’s likely that you’re going to run into much bigger jealousy issues down the line. You’ll probably have to come to a point where you evaluate for yourself whether you’re willing to be in a relationship with a person who is acting this way or if you’re meant for someone a little more open and confident (hell, you might find someone that enjoys scrolling through pictures of hot women with you).
In the meantime, do your part by making sure you tell her how attractive she is and how much she means to you. You want to build her up, not tear her down or make it seem like her feelings are invalid. A good compromise might be to like and interact with her content first and with more enthusiasm than you do other people’s so you can make her feel special, too.
I’m seeing this guy, and he is really talkative. Like, will not shut up. I like him and he’s interesting to listen to, but I can’t get a word in edgewise and I feel like he’s making everything about him. How do I tell him to shut up and listen for once? More importantly, does this mean he’s not interested in me or what I have to say?
Okay, this is the actual worst. We’ve all been on dates like these; the ones where you’re just sitting there, vacantly nodding and dying inside while a date blabs on and on about some impossibly tangential topic only they can relate to. When this happens and they’re not asking any questions about you or continuing on the conversation in a more mutual way, it’s easy to wonder if they’re actually interested in you as a person, or they need an emotional sponge to project their thoughts and insecurities onto. I’ve had this happen with both younger and older men alike, and it can be a real deal-breaker for me. But, since I believe in love, and in you, let’s sort it out.
One way to address this situation is to tell him what you want in terms of conversation and communication. The best advice I ever got about this was from the man himself — Hugh M. Hefner. He said something like, “You have to ask for what you want, or how will I know?” This is applicable in everyday scenarios with dates of all genders and orientations. The first step to doing this is to vocalize to your significant other that you would love it if you two got to know each other on a deeper level, and that for you, that means taking turns asking each other questions and having conversations cover topics other than yourselves. Let him know your conversational needs aren’t being met, and that while you love the way he thinks about things, you’d like an opportunity to share what you’re thinking, too.
Next, give him time to work on his old habits. When he does listen to you, ask questions and reciprocate the conversation, reward him with compliments and positive affirmations. Let him know it means a lot to you when he hears you out and asks about your day, etc.
Also, if you feel comfortable with this, I’d try asking him to meditate with you. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s really helpful when it comes to centering yourself, getting into the present and connecting with one another in silence (which could be a merciful break from his incessant blabbing). This practice has always made it easier for me to connect with others, and if he’s willing to do this with you, it could be helpful in getting him to be more calm, grounded and reflective.
If there’s no progress after a couple of attempts, I’d reconsider your options. It’s not fun to be in a relationship with someone who only talks about themselves, or who can only maintain conversations about limited topics. It makes it hard to grow as a couple when things are that one-sided, or to feel validated and appreciated when your ideas or opinions don’t get a chance to come through. You deserve to be with someone who wants to know everything about you, who asks probing questions about your life and wants to “be in the arena” with you.
If you want to know more about how men communicate, I’d recommend this book by Deborah Tannen. Though it’s slightly gendered and I don’t necessarily believe men and women are different species with their own unique languages, I’ve still found it useful for breaking down the reasons why some men listen less and talk more. Also, I watched this talk on Netflix called The Call to Courage by Brene Brown with my boyfriend last weekend that really made a difference in how we communicate. It’s all about vulnerability and showing up for each other, and I immediately felt closer to him afterward. It was really needed during a week where I felt like I was trying to communicate but he wasn’t hearing me.
Is it possible to be allergic to your partner? Every time I have sex with this one dude, I get a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or some sort of other ailment. I’m starting to wonder if our bodies are just incompatible. Is that a thing?
I’m no doctor, but I did choose a profession that requires me to get blood and urine-tested for STDs every 14 days in order to perform in a film, so lucky for you, I do know a thing or two about this. To answer your question, yes, it’s technically possible to be allergic to your partner (and we’ll get to that), but it’s far more likely that either you or your partner has an STI.
The first thing you should do is go get tested with a full blood panel, urine test and pap smear (assuming you have a vagina, here). Ask your partner if they’ll go with you, too. That way, if one of you has something, you can both get treated. Here’s one of my favorite websites where you can find cheap, quick testing near you. Planned Parenthood is always a good option, too.
If you’re still getting these reactions after you’re treated (or neither of you had anything in the first place) then you may actually be allergic to him (or something on him). My first guess would be a semen allergy — though they’re extremely rare, some people are allergic to their partner’s pre-cum and semen, and it can throw off the pH balance of their vagina and cause some of the symptoms you’re having. You can test whether this might be the case by using a condom or having him pull out way before he’s going to ejaculate for a few weeks. If your symptoms improve, it might be that. If it is, don’t worry — that doesn’t mean your bodies are incompatible, just that you need to find ways to not get his cum in you (er, at least not in your vagina or on your vulva).
Another option is a latex or lube allergy. If you’re using condoms, it might just be that your body’s not a fan of latex or the silicone lubricant that comes on condoms (both of these things are allergens for a small amount of people). Thankfully, there are a few other options for condom materials like lambskin or polyisoprene you can try. Some condoms also come with water-based lube on them (or no lube at all). It might be possible, too, that it’s the soap, lube, shaving cream or laundry detergent one of you uses on your face, hands or genitals. And so, I’d recommend examining the products you use, thinking about how they might either directly or indirectly wind up touching your vulva/vagina, then seeing if there are any irritants that stand out. You can switch to more natural, lower-ingredient, hypoallergenic products and see if that helps as well.
Experiment with removing some of these variables for a few weeks and then reintroducing them and notice if it changes how your body reacts. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water and to pee after sex to avoid UTIs and reduce the risk of yeast infections. Sometimes I forget to do this after sex because I’m so tired, but it really does help.
Whatever it is, though, I’d still recommend using a condom with him. Though the chances that you’re allergic to him — or that he’s sleeping around and continually giving you something — are low, the barrier should still help separate the irritant from you. I would definitely recommend going to see a gynecologist if it keeps happening, too. May the odds be ever in your favor, and I hope you get to the bottom of this!
I hope you enjoyed this week’s column! Feel free to send me your sex, love and relationship questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!