I want to know where I stand
Dear Dr Nekia,
I want to have a serious conversation with my lady friend about our relationship. I don’t want to come across too strong or too desperate, but I would like to know where we stand. In the past, it has always been the female to ask me questions and to generally want to become a serious item before I do, so I haven’t had to do this before. We have never really discussed the nature of our relationship or expectations so how do I bring up the topic without risking my pride or looking like a fool?
I Want More
Dear I Want More,
It sounds to me like you are afraid of rejection, a very common fear that we all have at some point or another. Know that you are doing nothing wrong or creepy by asking her where things stand. Try to avoid focusing on the fact that she has not brought it up to you as yet; the person who initiates is often the person who holds the power to control and direct the situation.
I usually prefer the direct approach, but there are a few ways that you can do this if you are truly worried about risking your ego or scaring her off. Indirect questions have a way of getting you the answers that you need without alarming the person’s defences. Instead of asking something like ‘Where is this going?’ you could ask ‘Where do you see yourself in the next year or so?’ Listen to her answer and see if she mentions anything about settling down. If she only mentions career, financial, and personal growth, casually ask her if she has thought about having a family or getting married.
If she says yes, then see if she uses words like “someone”, “the man I choose”, “the one I am looking for”, or “whoever he might be”. These phrases will indicate that she has not yet focused on you as being a part of her future.
If she says that she hasn’t given marriage much thought, then you know that a committed relationship is probably not a priority for her right now.
If, on the other hand, she says that she has not given much thought to her future at all, then you know that she is just taking things in her life day by day. This is because she is non-committal or she is unsure about where she is and where she wants to be in life.
Women, in particular, often daydream about what we want in a relationship. We have a picture of the perfect man, the perfect date, and the perfect wedding. We apply these pictures to individual men that we are interested in and convince ourselves of the “if onlys” — if only he would make more money, if only he would stop drinking, if only he had a better upbringing, if only he had me as a good woman to love him, if only these other females would leave him alone, etc.
The more interested we are in a person, the more specific our vision of them and the course of our relationship becomes. This is true for men and women. Someone who uses words such as “one day”, “someone”, “whoever”, etc, may have given thought to what they want in a relationship but have not yet put your face to the person that they see themselves with.
Someone who uses words such as “we”, “us”, “if things work out”, etc, either sees you as being the person by their side in the future, or has at least opened up to the idea of it.
So if the woman you are interested in settling down with has not devoted much time to either her future or to seeing you as being the guy, you can be pretty sure that you still have some steps to get through before becoming a solid couple.
Dear Dr Nekia,
Ever since I had a baby, sex is uncomfortable for me. I gave birth almost two years ago and I have not been able to really enjoy sex since then. I’ve had several tests done and my doctor says that everything is normal and that there are no signs of trauma or disease that would cause the discomfort. What could be going wrong? Am I going to have to just live with it for the rest of my life?
Dear Sexual Discomfort,
I think that we grossly underestimate the changes and effects that pregnancy and childbirth have on our bodies. Medical science does not know everything there is to know about the process, and their tests cannot detect what they are not programmed to do. Disease and abnormalities in the body begin way before they are detected by blood work or imagery, and this is mainly because we need to know what we are looking for before we can invent a test to screen for it. While it is deemed safe to resume sexual activity after six weeks, it is common to experience discomfort until you stop breastfeeding or up to 18 months or so after giving birth. Some women even experience it up to three years post-partum.
The reason for this could be complications due to pregnancy or birthing, but it also could be due to the healing and recovery timeline that your body is on. If all of your tests have come back clear, it is either that something has been overlooked, your body is still in the recovery phase, or your body has been altered due to the pregnancy and birthing experience.
Alterations could be temporary, semi-permanent or permanent. Temporary changes will resolve on their own as your body recovers. Semi-permanent changes, for example secondary to breastfeeding, will disappear once the body’s environment is restored, while permanent changes will cause you to have to change the way that you have sex.
Breastfeeding can cause sexual discomfort because it causes hormonal changes. The breasts stimulate the reproductive organs of the female which directly affects your nether regions. Whether your discomfort is temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent, it does not mean that you are powerless to do something about it.
Research post-partum yoga and stretches, pelvic floor muscle exercises, post-partum diet, post-partum supplements, post-partum massage, etc, because you most likely will need to change your lifestyle to accommodate your recovery.
All of these can help speed up recovery, minimise scarring, and make things a lot more comfortable for you in the bedroom. Think of your body as being fluid. Everything about you and within you moves and changes so your lady parts move and change over time as well.
Acceptance is key to avoiding frustration, and patience will go a long way in reducing anxiety or stress that could prolong healing or make things far more uncomfortable for you.
If nothing seems to be working, follow up with your doctor and seek alternative medical methods. It’s a good idea even now, to modify your sexual positions. Experiment with tilting your pelvis, change leg positions and use pillows to support your lower back and abdomen.
Do not forget the rest of your body too, because slight movements such as arching your back, stretching your arm, or turning to one side can make all the difference in the world.
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