This advice column is penned by a Sonoma County resident and our new weekly sage. Go ahead! Ask her anything.
Dear Sydney, I'm writing to suggest polyamory (responsible non-monogamy) as an ethical alternative for your "Needing Options" reader. Our culture's monogamy rules are relatively new in the course of human history. Also, there are very few mammals, or other animals, birds, fish, etc., that are monogamous. Polyamory requires support, just like any form of committed relationship. There are books, workshops, tapes, etc., where this support is available. Polyamory is much more holistic than the old "swinging" practices which some people may remember with discomfort, and more responsible than the "free love" of the '60s and '70s. High levels of personal integrity are essential to successful polyamorous relationships. We humans have much larger love-filled hearts than we've been conditioned to believe.--Polly
Dear Polly: First of all, I'd like to apologize for not printing your entire letter here, but the space constraints insist. By suggesting that "Needing Options" keep her oh-so-desirable friend at an arm's length, I did not mean that she should turn her back on her own bliss. Monogamy is a choice, one that works for some and not for others. As you point out, polyamory could be a viable option to turning her back on the draw of her friendship. I merely meant to encourage "Needing Options" to change the rules of her relationship first, rather then breaking them. And if she doesn't want to risk the changes this would inevitably bring about, then she probably shouldn't risk fucking around. In any case, polyamory seems to work very well for some people, and thanks for bringing it to our attention. It's so easy to think within the box, while remaining oblivious to the fact that we are in one.
Dear Sydney, it looks like, after two and half years, by boyfriend and I just aren't right for each other. I think we could break up and remain friends, but the hard part is, even though we have separate cabins, we do live on the same property. Neither of us can afford to move. We have already broken up a few times, but we always manage to get back together. I hate to say it, but I think part of the reason we get back together is just due to proximity. Do you have any suggestion for how to deal with this?--Seesaw
Dear Seesaw: Chances are you will eventually get tired of the emotional nightmare that is the on-again, off-again relationship, and you will either break up for good or decide to stay together. In either case, sometimes you have to be willing to sit back and let the thing run its course. Really get it out of your system. Once you do, you will be ready to commit to a course of action and then stick with it. There is a simple test you can perform, however, if you want to establish once and for all whether or not you can handle breaking up and living in proximity. One of you has to start dating someone else. As soon as this happens, you will have the information you need to know whether you are, in fact, capable of being good friends. If either one of you fails this test, then you have to face reality, which is this: move. No matter what it takes, no matter how daunting the prospect may seem, you can do it, and ultimately you will be much happier for it.
Dear Sydney, I've been with my partner for going on nine years, and I think she doesn't like to have sex--or at least not with me. I understand the normal ebb and flow of long-term-relationship attraction, but lately (i.e., the last three years) our sex life has gone to pot. I am the only one who initiates, and though I feel like I do all the "right" things (sensual touching, massage, foreplay, oral stimulation, etc.), she doesn't seem into it, or at least not as much as I am. She says she only cums with a finger, which over time I feel at peace with, and I usually manage to give her an orgasm before or after I do, and yet I just don't feel like she's satisfied and reeling with contentment. Is this just the fact of a long-term relationship and I should just get over it and be happy I'm getting any at all, or do you think it's something else? Please help.--Giving It but Not Getting It
Dear Giving: The two factors that most commonly define an intimate relationship are intertwining finances, and sex. Consequently, most couples have the majority of their friction and misunderstanding around sex and money. Taking it personally will never help you. Women do not have the benefit (or at, times, the curse) of having testosterone coursing through their bodies. But you're stuck with the girl, low sex drive and all, probably because you love her. Many women have ebbs and flows in the levels of their sexual desire, and though they will often demand that you "prove" your love and valiant intentions before sex, it's likely that they just aren't in the mood. In fact, they may be trying to make it as difficult for you as possible in hopes that you might decide to forget the whole thing and turn in early.
Don't be daunted by this apparent lack of desire, and focus your positive energy on when she needs you most. Find out when she's the horniest. For most women, this "horny" time begins immediately after her period and escalates to her ovulation date (any guess of why that could be?), at which point it tapers off dramatically. Leave her alone during her off times, that way, when she hits her "horny" time, she's going to want you more.
Most of us long to feel wanted, and the fact that our desires for each other do not always match up is a painful one, but it's also, for a variety of ever-shifting reasons, unavoidable. It's not unsolvable, however, so don't try to just "get over it"; that implies giving up. Just don't forget what it means to have fun. The more fun you can bring into your sex life, the better. And if you wait patiently, and she just never gets that glint in her eye, then buy her an herbal aphrodisiac at the health-food store, and a vibrator, in order to prove how far you are willing to go to make her feel good. Everyone has fantasies, she's probably just not telling you hers. See if you can get her to confide, and then you'd better be willing to fulfill.
No question too big, too small or too off-the-wall. Ask Sydney.