Nonmonogamy research, gender, self care, and HIV

Links to share:

This is a pretty fascinating summary of research done on the perception of different types of nonmonogamy; spoiler alert, poly folks were perceived to be more moral while swingers were perceived to be more adventurous.

A pretty awesome piece written on the lessons to be gained from dating someone in an open relationship

A fun compilation of vagina facts

Ginny on using language to be more gender-inclusive

The Gottman blog on self care, autonomy, closeness, and relationship interdependence

Interesting ideas on why childfree couples seem to cheat less than their counterparts with children

I love this infographic from The Lancet on HIV and sex workers:

Lancet-sex-work-infographic_930px (1)

Taking Care of Myself

Quick recap of my past week or so:

Last Friday was a hard day. Not only did I find out that I did not get a job I had been holding out for, but I ended my work day being unable to provide emergency services to two survivors who were in desperate need. I was the only one left in the building, and at 5:50pm, I just sat on my yoga ball and cried for a few minutes. When I was done, I got a sticky note, and wrote down the things I was going to do that weekend to take care of myself. It included: finishing my kombucha, taking a bath, sleeping in, doing my nails, watching Game of Thrones, and basking in the sun. I am proud to say I did all of these things, except for getting caught up on GoT. But that’s okay, because now J and I have three episodes we can watch together all in a row (which is definitely better than one at a time).

Monday was a glorious day, deliciously all to myself. And even the moments when I felt like maybe I was “wasting” time, I knew deep down that I wasn’t. The day was spent exactly how it needed to be spent. I slept in, lingered over breakfast, got some things done on my to do list, went to the gym, interviewed for a friend’s book on sex and happiness (fantastic!! thanks for including me!), laid in the sun, took photos of myself naked in the sun, and generally loved on myself. Including pulling out my Lelo Ino for an awesome masturbation sesh (which, by the way, do y’all remember/know that May is National Masturbation Month?)

And! I happen to be enthralled with this amazing woman, and I only wish she lived closer. Although when I channel my inner Byron Katie, I know that it is how it should be, because that is how it is. We will enjoy each other through Facebook and Skype until we see each other in person. And when we see each other in person, it will be fantastic, that much I am certain of.

My parents are coming to visit next week. I’m trying to decide how public to be with my DatingAdvice contributions (using my full name or pseudonym, etc). I’m registering for fall classes next week. We’re flying down to the Bay Area in a couple of weeks for my sister’s college graduation. I’m planning a summer party with all of our best peeps. I’m almost done painting our house! J fixed our toilet AND sink! Life is full and rich as always. My BDD is feeling more manageable this past week, which is a relief.

Happy Spring!

IMG_0976

I’m 5 Again

Going through counseling for body dysmorphic disorder is, recently, making me feel like I am 5 years old again. Perhaps because my BDD is mild-medium severe, the treatment isn’t super intensive. The “homework” I’ve done has certainly exacerbated my symptoms at times, but a lot of what my counselor has assigned me to do looks like your basic self esteem work (with some specific behavior abatement and exposure work, too).

For instance, some of my recent homework has been to:

-Make a list of things I like about myself, and put that list in the bathroom at home and on my desk at work.

IMG_20140520_145228_394-Objectively describe body parts, starting first with those that I am mostly satisfied with and working up to describing those that I am less or not at all satisfied with.

My counselor has encouraged me to recruit J into my homework (ask him what he likes about you!). I’ve been encouraged to strip more, to dance naked at Sesso more and wear less clothing– all of which are counter intuitive, but the counter intuitiveness is what exposure therapy is all about. “You’re weight matters a whole lot less than you think,” she keeps telling me. “People do not notice as much as you think.” I’m still not totally sure, but I’m trying to repeat those lines as my new mantra (it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter). Reading my positive qualities list is having a positive effect, I think: when I zone out at work, I’m at least reading positive self talk, instead of focusing on my stomach which feels too fat or what food I should or shouldn’t eat later in the day.

I’m working on my self confidence, which is something I had long dismissed as the work for a little kid- shouldn’t I have learned all of this already in life? And if I should have, I probably did, right? So I don’t need to work on it now? What I am realizing, is that self confidence takes maintenance, and needs to be built into my self care. Making clear associations between how I take care of myself and my other self care activities is important, too (feeling good that I go to counseling as a way to do personal work, feeling good doing the work that I do as a form of helping others, feeling good getting a hair cut as a way to take care of my hair, etc.). Maybe some people do just “have self confidence,” but I am finding out that I need to consciously work on feeling confident and happy with myself.

What things do you like about yourself?

Loneliness

I’ve had a lonely couple of days, and am feeling less lonely today. Loneliness is one of those feelings that just sucks. There’s no way around it, except through it. I can’t run away from it (or any other feeling for that matter). I have to let it sit and eat out my heart until it’s done. Loneliness is a vastly different feeling than feeling alone. Aloneness is delicious- I can swim luxuriously through aloneness and enjoy me, myself, and I in my own bubble for a while. I am productive and creative and sensual when I am alone. But this lonely bullshit has been just that the past few days.

the-lonely-man

It helped to type into Google yesterday: what to do when you’re lonely. (I know, right? How old am I? How did I get to be almost 26 and not have this list ready-made in my head?)

Reading other blog articles was really helpful (I liked this one and this one). Here’s my list.

What Katie B Needs to Do When She’s Lonely

1. Cry. A fucking lot.

2. Call my mom. Cry some more.

3. Call a friend. Like, a really good friend. Someone who I can practically get a hug from over the phone.

4. Eat delicious food. Like a really awesome burger. With kombucha.

5. Take a hot shower.

6. Stretch.

7. Listen to new music.

8. Cuddle with my pup.

9. Read a new book.

10. Exercise. Endorphins help.

11. Talk to more friends.

12. Talk to J and receive the love.

13. Welcome loneliness. Say, “I’m not afraid of you. You can’t make me hurt all that much for all that long. So bring it.”

What do you do when you feel lonely?

Random Things

I’m not sure what this post is about, but I realized I haven’t posted anything in a few days so I felt compelled to write something.

Here’s a cute self care thing I did a couple days ago: I wrote affirmations on individuals pieces of paper and put them in my heart coffee mug. They say things like:

I now affirm that I love others without expecting anything in return.

I now affirm the gratitudee for everything in my life.

I now affirm that I can assert my boundaries and still be loved.

I now affirm that my body is always changing and always beautiful and always perfect.

I have been picking one in the morning and one in the evening. It’s been a way for me to meditate and keep positive thoughts in my head throughout the day.

Also, I have had a number of job interviews this week and another lined up for next week. That is exciting!!

I have been waiting for my sex drive to pick back up. Since I met with my professor a month ago and J had his vasectomy, between my stress and his pain, our sex life took a bit of a plummet. I can feel my sexual energy gearing back up, but it hits me at random times. I can’t count on it yet.

If you want any random reading, here are some fun and interesting articles:

Friends with Benefits

What is Compersion?

The Year in Sex- Continuing in 2014

Cheers!

Checking Out

When J was seeing his counselor for the first time, her only concern about his open relationship was that the relationship style could be used to “check out” from his relationship with me. She commented that people can check out of their relationships in many ways, and that monogamous people do it, too. People zone out in front of their TVs, computers, phones. People obsessively check Facebook (I’m guilty of this) or the news or put a random TV show on to avoid talking about something difficult. People use work to check out, or exercise. What’s the line between a healthy coping strategy and checking out (negative avoidance)?

My realization this week, facilitated by counseling:

I have used relationships to check out of my relationship with myself.

This goes along with the same story of putting others’ needs and desires before addressing my own, but also is more damaging in that this checking out process has operated at a more sub-conscious/unconscious level.

Focusing on the highs of relationships (sexual intimacy, fantasy, fast heart beat, flush, butterflies in my stomach, frequency of communication, content of communication, etc.) takes me away from the more painful things going on in my head. As my counselor said to me this week: the brain is fabulous at using coping strategies to keep it from feeling pain.

Truth be told, my body image issues have become a total mind suck the past couple of months, and the past few weeks in a terrible way. Focusing on my relationship and fantasies have been a distraction. Something this could be a healthy coping mechanism, but when the relationship with myself with my body and my heart and mind fall to the wayside, I do myself a deep disservice.

Here’s to getting back online with myself and to having the reminder to practice self-love and self-compassion.