How to Talk to a New Sexual Partner About COVID-19 Risk

Your heart is beating fast. Your palms are sweating. You can hear your partner’s breath speed up, and you know it’s going to happen: for the first time, you and that special someone are about to take your face masks off. Dating has been a little different during the coronavirus pandemic, to say the least. While…

When Is It Okay to Get Back Together With an Ex?

You know the siren call of that late night text. I love you, the message from your ex might read. I want you back. Twelve hours and an equal number of orgasms later, however, your hopes to get back with an errant ex dissolve like morning dew, as they once again slide out of your bed, DMs, and…

The Pleasure And Peril of Being Sexually Vulnerable

Intimacy is joyful and life-sustaining. It is also inherently vulnerable.  After all, even the most successful of relationships ends. Our lovers leave us, our feelings change, or we choose different paths. If we do stay with a lover our whole lives, death itself will eventually separate us. Intimacy is fraught with vulnerability, because to be…

Supporting a Partner With Mental Illness (And When It’s Okay to Leave)

From anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and addiction, mental illness shapes the daily lives and loves of those who experience it. This includes the symptoms of the illness themselves, but it also includes pervasive ableist discrimination against people with mental illness—including stigma within intimate relationships. If we don’t experience mental illness, but are in a relationship with…

Tips on Queer Dating When You Come Out Later in Life

It started, as many queer stories do, with a woman at a bar. Anne-Marie Zanzal was 19 years old, and when she saw the beautiful woman that day, something moved in her. “Wow!” Zanzal, now an author, grief counselor, and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, said to herself. But as quickly as…

How to Become an Ally in Our Intimate Lives

Often, we find a vision of a better world when we’re most in crisis. I was a young, queer woman in an abusive relationship with a partner who was marginalized in different ways than me. I needed help, but none of the institutions supposedly built for survivors—police, anti-harassment committees, even mainstream anti-violence orgs—spoke to my experience,…

A Guide to Respectful No-Strings-Attached Sex

Around 2011, casual sex once again hit the headlines. From sex-friend flicks like No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits, to vaguely censorious journalistic deep dives and scholarly analyses, pop culture was obsessed with no-strings-attached sex. Young women were, the breathless reports detailed, having more sex without romantic commitment—and some of us were even liking it. 2011 also happened to be my…

How to Say “No” to Sex

It was a perfect day for romance. The birds were singing, the flowers had just opened their faces to the early-spring sun, and I was walking hand-in-hand with a new date. I was midway through a story about a neighbor’s uncomfortable sexual advances when my love interest said something that stopped me in my tracks….

The Unexpected Benefits of Remote Dating During Social Distancing

In times of crisis, grave concerns tend to intersect with more mundane ones. The coronavirus pandemic has created a series of global shockwaves, from unprecedented strain on the healthcare system to economic instability, exacerbated inequality, and xenophobia. Some of us, due to health vulnerabilities, economic precarity, or housing instability, are more severely affected than others. But between grim…

How to Spend Valentine’s Day If You’re Single

Whenever I read a self-help article that advises women to “put yourself first,” or “cultivate self-love,” I want to throw my laptop out my fourth floor apartment window in despair. (I don’t actually do it, of course, because laptops are expensive.)  Often, these seemingly empowering pieces of advice come with subtle directives about what we…