Ask a Queer Chick: How Can I Get Excited About My Sex Life With My Girlfriend?

Also: How soon is too soon to date someone after my divorce? And: How do I know if my feelings for my friend are real?

[Photo: Two queer people of color tenderly caress each other in bed. One looks concerned, the other looks understanding.]
Sometimes people who really love each other just aren’t sexually compatible, but I think it’s too soon to conclude that’s what’s going on here. An emotional connection can be a strong foundation upon which to build a mind-blowing sex life. Grab your tools and get to work. Zackary Drucker / The Gender Spectrum Collection

Hi, readers! I’m experiencing an intense seven-layer dip of emotions as I sit down to write this column, including joy, anticipation, and deep ambivalence about which of my Lizzo t-shirts I should cut into a crop top for summer, but also a lot of sadness. This will be my last Ask a Queer Chick column for Rewire.News. I’m very grateful to my brilliant editors here, all the folks who have trusted me with their honest and vulnerable questions, and, of course, everyone who has been reading me for the last year and a half. My advice inbox ([email protected]) is still open, and you can always email me; like the Terminator, I’ll be rebooted with de-aging CGI every few years for the rest of eternity.

I am pretty secure in the knowledge that I am pansexual, but lately my mojo is busted. I’ve mostly dated cis men, although significant women and trans/nonbinary folk have had a place in my heart as well.

I was blessed nearly a year ago with falling in love with a woman who is amazing in so many ways. However, I am finding it hard to be excited about our sex life. There’s a few things that are very, very fun but I feel like I am a fumbling teenager, though I am an ethical slut in my 30s.

We’ve talked about it a little—tried some new things and had some good sex—but it isn’t getting better overall. It’s just inconsistent. Sometimes my brain gets super turned on, but I never get wet. The only thing that gets me off is when she goes down on me, but even the best orgasm I’ve had with her pales to my best orgasms ever.

We have an amazing emotional connection when we make love, but I just don’t get off. Experience and time alone don’t seem to be helping. Help. How can I get over my awkwardness?

Not everything you’re struggling with has a simple fix, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the extremely straightforward solution to “I’m mentally turned on but not wet.” The solution—and that was a pun, so apologies—is lube.

Lube is awesome! Get into it, or more precisely, get it into you. Nothing kills a mood like excessive friction. Please never hesitate to use as much lube as you want and then some. Needing lube doesn’t mean you’re not into your partner or the sex you’re having; it’s just a really good way of making everything easier and more fun.

Water-based lube is your basic little black dress: It goes with everything and is easy to clean. Silicone lube is great but can damage silicone sex toys, especially cheap ones, so do a spot test at the base of the toy before you play. Oil-based lube feels heavenly but will fuck with your condoms and stain your sheets. Choose your fighter wisely.

I have more to say, but it’s not impossible that lube is all the help you need. Feel free to bookmark this and come back later.

OK, if you’re still here (or you’re checking back in during a snack break), a few more ideas. It sounds like you’re way up in your head about how hard it is for you to get off. I know orgasms are a big part of the fun, but obsessing over your distance from the finish line is a really great way to ruin the whole journey.

It might be useful to do a cold reboot of your sex life with your girlfriend. Start at the very beginning: What turns you on, what do you fantasize about, what are your boundaries, what are you maybe interested in trying? Then experiment with things you’re both interested in, without a focus on orgasms. Have sex in every way you can think of, but don’t get each other off—just let the tension build. You can get creative here. Watch porn together without touching, spend a day apart exchanging sexts and nudes…but hold off on coming until you absolutely can’t anymore.

Another option is to get yourself off as quickly as possible at the beginning of sex, so then the pressure’s off, and you can just do whatever feels fun. Oh, and if strap-on sex is great but doesn’t get you where you need to go, I can’t say enough good things about vibrating cock rings. They’re cheap and easy to find at any sex shop, and they take vaginal penetration to a new level.

Sometimes people who really love each other just aren’t sexually compatible, but I think it’s too soon to conclude that’s what’s going on here. An emotional connection can be a strong foundation upon which to build a mind-blowing sex life. Grab your tools and get to work.

I’ve been with my husband for 13 years. I was previously in relationships with women in my 20s, but ended up with this guy and have two amazing kids. I don’t really consider myself bisexual and have always said that I am a lesbian who happens to be married to a man.

It’s become clear that I should not be married to him and that I should be with women. At the same time, I have fallen in love with my best friend (and her with me).

In the normal course of this scenario, I would have made myself wait a year post-husband before getting into a relationship with someone else. But I don’t think I can wait a year to be with her, especially after being in a sexually desolate relationship for so long! What should I do?

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you should get a divorce. Maybe you already have and you just didn’t mention it? But it’s not at all clear from this letter that your husband even knows your marriage is over. If he doesn’t, that needs to be your top priority right now.

I know you’re dying to dive headfirst into a new relationship, but since your soon-to-be-ex will always be your children’s other parent, caution is required. I strongly urge you to take no major steps with your girlfriend for the foreseeable future. I’m not telling you not to be with her, but take things very, very slowly. Do not move in together yet (I think a year post-divorce is a reasonable timeline for that milestone), and don’t do anything else that will push your new love in your children’s faces while they’re still in the throes of processing their parents’ breakup. Don’t abandon your kids to deal with this massive transition while you honeymoon on the Island of Lesbos.

Remember to take your husband’s feelings into consideration as well, and try to give him space to mourn. I speak from experience when I say that whatever resentment he carries away from your marriage will be your children’s to deal with for the rest of their lives. So for their sake, if not for his, be as gentle as possible. Go to therapy, not to save your marriage, but to learn how to work together as co-parents. Your relationship with him is not ending; you are renegotiating its terms. Expect this to take time and work, and don’t blow it off to go get laid.

After 13 years in the wrong marriage, with all the loneliness and frustration that implies, you are on the rebound. I don’t doubt that your love for this woman is real, but it shouldn’t become the center of your life right away. You are about to go through a period of major growth and upheaval, come face-to-face with emotions you haven’t had to deal with in a very long time, forge ties, burn bridges, and learn a lot of new things about yourself. You will probably have to spend some time grieving your marriage, even though you know leaving is the right thing to do. Nothing that shapes your life for 13 years can be discarded painlessly.

Basically, you are not in an emotionally stable place right now, and when things settle down, you may or may not still be with her. Your children, however, will always be your children. Proceed accordingly.

I’m a 17-year-old girl, and I have a crush on a girl. I’ve known her for about eight years, and I’ve liked her since around September. I’ve been privately identifying as bisexual for a few years now.

Recently I was looking through some of my old journals from when I was around 13 or 14, which is when I started to think I was bi. In the journals, I talked about having a serious crush on a girl who was a peripheral friend at the time. I then became closer with her, and the crush faded a while after that. Then I liked another girl who I was friendly with. She’s since become my best friend, and we’re very close, but at this point, I can’t even imagine looking at her as anything other than a platonic friend.

Both of my previous crushes on girls have faded after we’ve become closer friends, so how do I know that what I’m experiencing now isn’t a “friend-crush” rather than actual romantic interest? I’ve never really had sexual feelings towards anyone, and I’ve never had feelings like this for a guy or for the great majority of my female friends. I’m kind of at a loss for advice: The only two people I’m out to are the two girls I’ve liked in the past, and that’s not a conversation I’m willing to have with either of them. Do you have any tips that might help me start to sort this out?

I have the worst advice ever, the absolute last thing any 17-year-old wants to hear from any adult, which is: You’ll just have to wait and see! Sometimes crushes mellow into friendships; sometimes friendships suddenly spark into undeniable attraction; sometimes unrequited longing goes away; and sometimes it curdles. Feelings are weird and amorphous and shifty little creatures. There’s no definite point at which you’ve had a crush long enough that it’s officially valid. Either it will last or it won’t, and there’s no way to know in advance.

I can’t tell you for sure whether your attraction is more like a friend-crush, but you know what having friends is like—is that what you want from the girl you’re currently pining for? Or do you hope for something different: Something more intense, more intimate, potentially more thrilling but also much more vulnerable and scary? If you don’t have much sexual attraction toward anyone, it might be difficult to discern between romantic desire and a hope of greater friendship, but right now, at this moment, do you want this girl to be your girlfriend?

Bear in mind that knowing the answer doesn’t necessarily mean having to act on it. You don’t have to date if you don’t feel ready; it’s perfectly fine to just sit back and enjoy the exhilaration of a crush. But if you do want to give dating a try, you can ask out the girl you like even if you’re not 100 percent sure your interest in her will last. That’s the whole point of dating: You spend enough time with a person to find out whether you’re mutually interested in a lasting connection.

A lot of people, especially young people, are hesitant to initiate anything romantic because they fear their attraction will fade over time. It’s always a possibility, I’m afraid—even for adults with tons of experience and absolute confidence in their orientations. But there’s also always a possibility that you will have wonderful conversations and brilliant adventures and maybe some deep eye contact and kissing, and isn’t that worth taking a little risk for? Throw your heart at this girl and see if it sticks.