Dear Shree: Outlook's Agony Aunt
Dear Shree, I’m 34, and have never had a boyfriend. I lead a somewhat structured life because I have mild to moderate OCD. If I clean the kitchen, I have to shower for at least an hour. If I wash my clothes, I have to wash my hands constantly. I usually also maintain diaries about conversations I have with friends/people so I can keep linking back with them. If a diaper is changed on furniture, I won’t sit there until it’s washed. I prefer not to use public bathrooms unless I’m desperate. The times I’ve had sex, I would shower for almost all day. When I leave my place, I check the doors by counting to five to make sure they’re locked. I believe I can manage this disorder by exercising and keeping my anxiety levels down. Some guys have been interested in me but I subconsciously push them away so they won’t find out my ailment. Should I be honest and come clean to a potential partner? I’m worried they’ll think I’m weird and spill the beans to others.
-- Ritu Kapoor, Bengaluru
Instead of focusing on romantic liaisons, your main focus would be better targeted at managing your condition in a way that makes your life more higher-functioning and meaningful. And while it is ideal that you find someone who loves you for who and how you are, but OCD is something you have, not something you are, and you have to learn ways to manage the disorder so that the traits of anxiety and control lessen and don’t interfere with your existence. I suggest you look at cognitive therapy and try finding a therapist to treat you (one who specializes in OCD, preferably). Maybe you can also seek group therapy so that you are talking with others who have OCD and finding out how they deal with dating and relationships and friendships and the ways they share their diagnosis with people in their lives. True, a lot of men may find you weird and obsessive, but you can find love and be loved. But in order to find a healthy, happy relationship, you will have to let your guard down, let someone in, and risk getting rejected and hurt. You’re going to have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and to let someone see all the parts of you — including the OCD, but also just more normal things — that you may not love the most about yourself or that you think make you “weird.” Weird can be good too. What matters is your own confidence levels and seeking a way out of your present predicament.
Dear Shree, I am dating this great guy for a couple of months and everything seems really perfect. I adore him and enjoy our time together last fortnight when I slept over at his place we had sex and then at some point I fell asleep after we were done. When I woke up a while later, I realized he was having sex with me. I freaked out and told him to get away. He told me he was really sorry and he thought I had been conscious, and was enjoying being touched and tasted. Last night, I slept over again and we had sex and crashed. Then I woke up in the middle of the night because the bed was shaking and he was masturbating. I moved around and turned over on my stomach, when he stopped what he was doing right away and put his hand on me. He thought I was still asleep I am sure. Anyway he did not do anything else … and we just slept. While I don’t actually mind the masturbating, the combination of the two things while I am sleeping are making me feel creeped out. It’s a pretty new relationship and I’ve never thought of something like this before. Is there a chance he’s a kinky pervert?
-- Jagriti Rajkhowa , Guwahati.
Tell the man frankly what made you scared and squeamish — the combination of trying to arouse you while you were asleep and then masturbating beside you a few days later while you were asleep again — is making you feel strange and suspicious. Let him know that while you believe his point of view about thinking you were awake the first time, you find it out of place that instead of going out of his way to cultivate a sense of mutual trust and comfort he masturbates next to you while you slept. Shouldn’t he be somewhat cagey about his behavior after the first night and want you to feel safe in his presence? It could be a control thing, or maybe he fantasizes having sex with a sleeping woman, the way some people like to have sex with corpses. Give him another chance only after you are convinced. Still, consider these acts two red flags and proceed with caution.
Dear Shree, recently I found on my wife’s phone lewd text messages to her ex-manager/friend that consisted of sexually explicit content. While it was not directed toward him in a sexual manner, it did consist of sexual banter. While she says it was them “joking,” I feel it was sexting–as the texts were graphic in content and words. She said that she was only “teasing” him about his lusting after a certain female that they both worked with. But to me, a married woman/man should not engage in such “banter” over mobile devices or computers or im’s or texts, especially when it is not with your spouse.This has caused trouble in our relationship because she doesn’t see the fault in it and accuses me of trying to spy on her and control her social life and relationships outside marriage, calling me conservative and insecure, even when I am telling her it hurts my feelings knowing she engages in such texts with someone other than me. I can’t get it out of my head.
-- Shekhar Prasad, Chennai
Honestly, why were you peeking at her phone? Did you have any particular reason to mistrust her or is it a male desire to supervise her and thus deny a abiding trend in your marriage? If it’s the former, you need to address the trust issue. If it’s the latter, you need to address where this need comes from. You’ve expressed to your wife that you feel that her text conversation, which was sexual in content, was unsuitable. You’ve told her that you feel it’s “sexting.” What was the response you wanted from her? An apology? A promise not to engage in such behavior again? Or, was it most important that she agree with you that her text conversation was “sexting,” even if the content wasn’t addressed to the recipient in a particularly sexual manner? And if it was important for her to agree that her behavior qualified as sexting, would you believe that an admission of cheating? Is that, in the end, what you are seeking from her? There must have been a reason you were looking at your wife’s phone, and there must be a reason it’s so critical to you that there be some admission of sexting/cheating (if you consider sexting cheating). So, what is that reason? In short: this incident seems a symptom of something bigger. What is that something?
If you can express what it is you feel is missing in your marriage — respect, trust, mutual understanding — you’ll be in a better position to balance your argument. And if you still can’t discover common ground, you may want to consider finding a couples’ counselor to help you address the root of your problem.
For further queries, write to Dear Shree at email@example.com
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