relationships

You Might Be Sabotaging Yourself on Dating Apps

This post originally ran in GQ. Art credit: GQ

From a single woman’s perspective, swiping right on someone who hasn’t filled out their Tinder profile is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette; there is literally a chance you will die. For women, “the worst” on a first date is always possible—I do mean death, not bad breath or a filthy apartment. The “About Me” section on your dating app profile is one of the few clues we have that you’re not a serial killer. Fill it out.

Now, there are two ideal Tinder circumstances. The first, a personal favorite, is when you see and match with someone whom you already know in real life, and have always had a crush on, but never were able to act on it. The second is when you see a photo of a person you’re attracted to, with a bio that makes you smile. The perfect bio should be light and witty: Do not use your bio to make fun of women for selfies, for enjoying astrology, or for any other reason. (I see this a lot, and I’m constantly perplexed that some men still think negging works!) Include a brief description of yourself—this can even be a collection of Emojis that you connect with. Describe how you like to spend your time, and what you’re looking for. Just put something inoffensive there.

I understand that writing a dating profile is awkward, and you may be tempted to intentionally leave your bio blank to play it cool. But dating is awkward. So is sex. So is being alive! Swimming against the awkward current by “playing it cool” only makes it worse. You might be missing out on a great relationship—one in which you both actually like one another and have hot sex—because you were playing it cool.

When you leave your profile blank, your potential matches are left to wonder who you are and what you’re hiding. What have you done in your past? Are you actually available for dating? If you don’t fill out your profile I have no way of knowing! You aren’t giving me any information to go on.

If I don’t automatically assume you are a man of unsavory secrets, I assume you’re incredibly arrogant. I assume that you think you’re so special that filling out a profile is a moot point. Perhaps you expect that women will see your face and swipe right, sucked in by your winning smile. That might work sometimes. You might even get dates, but they’ll probably be pretty lousy: You’re not matching with people based on compatibility, just on your weird Tinder photos.

Leaving your dating app bio empty also makes you look lazy. As the old adage goes: Laziness in your Tinder profile implies laziness in bed. And yes, that is how women’s minds work. So please, write a line or two about yourself so I know you’re not a lazy, self-absorbed sociopath with a secret wife.

Advertisements

Are Some People Just Slapping the “Poly” Label on Their Cheating?

This article was originally published in Playboy.

Image courtesy of Playboy. 

“I’d been spending time intimately with someone on multiple occasions when I learned he had a girlfriend,” says Melissa Vitale, a New York City-based publicist. He said that his relationship was open and that he was “ethically non-monogamous.” As it turned out, Vitale’s lover’s girlfriend was not aware that he was sleeping with others under the false label of ethical non-monogamy. “I later found out that he was full of shit. He’s just a small man who cheats on his beautiful girlfriend,” Vitale says.

New York magazine reported in 2017 that 20 percent of Americans had practiced polyamory at some point in their lives. As a side effect of the normalization, are more people not only misusing the term, but using it as an excuse for bad behavior—therefore stigmatizing non-traditional relationships and stomping on the hard work advocates have done to help normalize such relationships in the first place?

Anyone who has spent time on a dating app recently has likely noticed a rise in people identifying as ethically non-monogamous and polyamorous. The Latin translation of polyamory is “many loves,” and polyamorous people don’t just have sex with, but date and love more than one person. Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy, but the two words are not interchangeable. Ethical non-monogamy is an umbrella term for open relationships formed on consent, trust, and honesty, and includes polyamory, swinging, and relationships in which a couple is emotionally exclusive but occasionally sleeps with others.

We see non-monogamy within “monogamous” relationships in the common practice known as cheating. Some people who cheat get off on the secrecy and sneaking that accompanies seeing someone behind their partner’s back. “Sometimes people get off on lying, that is their fetish,” says sex therapist Dr. Denise Renye. If you’re in an open relationship and wish to integrate secrecy into your sexual encounters, you can consensually negotiate that with your partner. “Most things are possible as long as consent is present. If the consent is not present, this completely clashes with the principles of ethical non-monogamy,” Dr. Renye says.

However, some folks seem to have attended Burning Man once, learned the word “polyamory,” stuck it on their Tinder bio, yet continued to date in a manner that involves non-consensual lies and secrecy. When they’re called out, they throw up their hands and say, I told you that I was poly! “They are attempting to sugarcoat their cheating styles. I do not necessarily think that people always know what they are talking about,” says sex educator Jimanekia Eborn.

Some folks, such as Vitale’s lover, may use words like “ethically non-monogamous” to cover up bad behavior. Others may simply be brand new to the poly lifestyle and in need of an education. “Do you even know who you are? Or do you know what kind of relationships actually work for you? You can also be hurting yourself in the process,” Eborn says. If you’ve serially failed at monogamy, it’s an exciting time when you learn about other options. You may feel eager to update your dating profile and embrace a new lifestyle. However, first, you have to do your research. To start, what kind of open relationship do you want? Do you want a relationship with a “primary” partner, with an option to sleep with other people? Do you want to date other people? Or do you want to be “solo poly,” in which all partners are on an equal playing field, and there’s no hierarchy?

Zachary Zane, a New York City-based writer, dated a woman who identified as poly, but did not live by its principals. “She would start dating someone new and completely forget about her previous partners. While all of us in the poly world cut a partner some slack when they start dating someone new and are in the midst of NRE [a poly expression for new relationship energy, or the giddy rush of joy you experience when you first start seeing someone], she never seemed to get over the NRE—until she found someone new and then forgot about her previous partner(s) all together,” Zane says.

It does not feel good to have a partner drop you the moment they meet someone new. You can avoid such misunderstandings by taking the time to think about what you’re truly looking for: one partner, multiple partners, or just multiple partners until you fall in love? Polyamory means many things to different people. For some, their relationship format changes depending on circumstance and partner(s). For others, it remains rigid and feels more like an orientation.

“A lot of us have been trained from the mainstream model to not ask tough questions about what realistically are you looking for, what are you available for, and what does your model for this kind of relationship look like?” says sex-positive psychologist Dr. Liz Powell. If you’re in a period of your life in which you want to be poly, but feel you may end up in a monogamous set-up one day, one argument is that it’s better to just identify as single. However, as long as you’re honest, you can identify however you want.

The plus side to identifying as open or poly, even if you may not always be that way, is the transparency. If you tell multiple partners that yes, there are others, and no, it won’t just be you right now, you don’t have to worry about hurting feelings with false pretenses. However, if you’re dating other poly people, you do have a responsibility to talk about what that word means to you. While it can be flexible to you, it may be a lifelong lifestyle to another, and vice-versa.

Any relationship, but especially relationships that involve more than two people, demand honest communication. That communication must begin with yourself, so you can clearly express your needs to other partners. That being said, dating is messy, and it takes trial and error to know what works best for you. The hard truth is, that while yes, there are some bad apples intentionally misusing words like “poly;” hurt feelings, learning curves and miscommunication are part of all relationships—including ethically non-monogamous ones.

“We’re reaching a point culturally where there are enough people being non-monogamous that folks are starting to use that label inappropriately, and that’s going to happen with any label,” Dr. Powell says. There’s a term known as “poly preaching,” which refers to poly people taking on an enlightened attitude that they date the way that humans are meant to—that it’s more intelligent than monogamy. While that is true for some, it doesn’t mean that poly people don’t mess up. And they should be allowed to.

“I think non-monogamous communities sometimes like to think of themselves as these like beautiful utopias full of enlightened people, who never have relationship drama. They only have relationships made completely of love and free of jealousy and fear. And that’s just not real. I’ve been non-monogamous on and off for 18 years, and I still have issues sometimes. We are all imperfect, messy humans,” Dr. Powell says. The key to being an ethical messy person, and not a harmful one, is honesty.

3 Conversations You Should Have Before You Go Condom-Free

Another winner for GQ.com. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

Many monogamous relationships grow from love. Many other, less lame monogamous relationships grow from a desire to stop using condoms. The DTR (define the relationship) conversation is a great time to talk about having unprotected sex, but the reverse is also true: A conversation about unprotected sex often leads to a conversation about Us. Physical sensation aside (going condom-free also feels fantastic for women), it’s a bonding experience. A newly condom-less relationship is cause for celebration. Forget wedding invites, start designing your invitations to your “we don’t use condoms anymore” dinner party. There’s emotional intimacy and a greater physical connection in becoming fluid-bonded, but that also means your genital germs are becoming your partner’s genital germs. For the sake of your relationship and the general public’s health, there are three conversations you must have before you toss out your rubbers.

1. Test Results

You have the right to do whatever you want with your body. You can get as many tattoos as you want and smoke as much weed as you want. Those things don’t really hurt anyone else, and they might even make you look really cool. But you gotta get tested. Talking about viruses and bacteria of the loins we may have picked up from sexual decisions past may make you squirm. The joy of being a grown-up is that we can drink beer, have sex, and stay up late, but the downside is we have to talk about the clap.

Worrying about your STI status is kind of like when you were a kid and you worried you’d get abducted by aliens. You probably thought you were the only freak kept up at night by that thought, but so was every other kid in the class. Rest assured your partner has not practiced perfectly safe sex his or her entire life either, so just take advantage of the mutual anxiety and say, “Let’s get tested, because I really want to make love to you without either of us having to stress about anything.” Skip the “I know I’m clean” route, without getting tested, because ya don’t know. It can also be a surprisingly romantic experience to get tested together. Go out for ramen after.

2. Birth Control

Some people think children are a source of love and joy, but I think babies are the most dangerous sexually transmitted infection of them all. They affect your lifestyle the most, they’re expensive, and they’re bad for the environment. I doubt you clicked on this article because you’re ready to become a parent, but if you have a functioning penis, you can make babies. Is she on the pill? Would a more long-term method be a better option, such as an IUD? Are you on the same page about reproductive rights? You don’t have to decide if you ever want to have kids there and then. Just check in with your lady lover with an easy “Are you happy with your birth control? Because as beautiful as our babies would be, I’m not there right now.” Offer to split the cost of her birth control. If she’s going to be the one dealing with side effects of hormonal birth control or the pain of an IUD insertion, it’s the polite thing to do.

3. Monogamy

Having sex only with each other, after getting tested and discussing birth control, is the safest way to bone without condoms—end of story. You just have to talk about it. If you know you’re into monogamy, say, “I’d love for us to only sleep with each other, how do you feel about that?” But that’s not always how it goes down. Some people prefer open relationships. If you’re non-monogamous but you want to talk about unprotected sex, say, “Hey, I trust you, so if you’re comfortable with it, I’d love to talk about us having sex without condoms.”

There are plenty of couples who agree to not use condoms with each other, but with anyone else. If you go this route, just please make sure that everyone else you’re sleeping with knows that you and your primary partner do it raw, so they can decide how they feel about that. Remember that some STIs, such as HPV and HSV (herpes), can still be transmitted from skin-to-skin contact, and that condoms only reduce the risk. Condom companies love to brag about how they are 98 percent effective, but that’s not factoring in human error.

 

TL; DR: If you’re in an open relationship, communicate with everyone and accept the risks before quitting condoms. If you’re monogamous, actually be monogamous. Cheating is always more trouble than it’s worth.

What to Say When Your Girlfriend Gets Cosmetic Surgery

Read my sexy lips.

This article was originally published in GQ. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

Recently I got lip fillers. I did it for myself, not “for a guy,” and my new lips look great (they look like my usual lips, but fuller and with a little Cupid’s bow). But when I told the men in my life what I was up to, they didn’t really know what to do with it.

From Donald Trump’s sexist tweet about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s supposed facelift to Rob Kardashian’s bizarre social-media meltdown about Blac Chyna’s plastic surgery, there are a lot of examples of how not to speak to and about women who elect to get cosmetic procedures. Maybe you’d be stoked if your girlfriend announced that she wanted to get work done. But you might also feel apprehensive, especially if your lady is planning a nose job or a breast augmentation, more drastic procedures that require anesthesia. You respect her and you love the way she looks already, and that’s beautiful. But when she brings up getting work done, give her the benefit of the doubt: Trust that she’s put thought into this and done her research. If all she wants is a little Botox or lip fillers, chill. Ask her why she wants it done, and listen. Express your thoughts and concerns, but at the end of the day, it’s her body and her choice. Ultimately, you should support it. It might end up turning you on.

Don’t be like Donald and Rob—here’s what to say and do to be supportive each step of the way:

Before: Don’t Overdo It

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” is at its core a supportive sentiment, and an important (albeit Bruno Mars-y) one. However, if your partner is telling you that she wants work done, please don’t undermine her intelligence and right to choose her own aesthetic by defaulting to praises of natural beauty. I, for instance, already have pink hair and eyelash extensions. Whenever a dude waxes poetic about how lovely I’d look if I let the pink wash out and opted for my natural brown hair, I feel like he’s undermining my decisions. I don’t feel like myself with long brown hair, I feel like myself with a messy magenta bob, damnit! The same goes for getting work done. When I first announced that I was going to get lip fillers, one guy said something mean about how I “just wanted to feel better about myself.” Well, in a sense, yeah—I wanted them because I enjoy feeling hot and powerful and I like how they look. Please don’t patronize me, or any woman, by assuming the desire to get work done is to fill some soul hole. Respect that this is my body, my choice, and my money, and if I want some Lana Del Rey-esque pouty lips, then that’s up to me. Don’t assume or say anything that infantilizes a woman’s choices about her body. And for fuck’s sake, don’t say something plain mean like “that’s gross,” because I know you follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram.

During: Be There in Person or in Texts

If your lady is getting something done that requires anesthesia, such as a nose or boob job, it might be nice to go with her, but injections are so quick that it’s not necessary. If you can’t join her on her beauty expedition, encourage her the day of and check in throughout in a supportive—but not annoying—manner. She’s about to experience a teeny bit of pain. Feel free to ask her, “Does it hurt?” and then laud women for having such high pain tolerance. Sitting in a comfy chair in Dr. Dara Liotta’s pristine Manhattan office, I loved getting my lips done. I have ten tattoos and enjoy BDSM so I may not be the best judge of pain threshold, but injections are truly no biggie. If you’re curious and want a fair comparison, I went to the dentist earlier that week and that sucked a million times more. Dr. Liotta’s office was sexy. Getting work done really does feel sexy, so totally amp that up—either verbally, if she allows you to accompany her, or through texts. Ask her things like, “How you holding up, champ?” or joke around about celebrity sightings. Truly the best things you can say during the procedure are words of encouragement, such as: “You got this! You’re going to look even hotter, if that’s possible.” Those newly plumped lips will reward you.

After: Give Her Soup and Space

If you want to score all the points after her procedure, bring her things like delicious soup, frozen yogurt, and ice packs. Snuggle up with movies or a House of Cards binge-watching session. Know that she may not be able to continue a conversation because her lips are sore. And if she wants space, give her space. Regarding lip augmentation, it takes a day or so to go from swollen to sexy—for other procedures it can take a lot longer. You know in High Fidelity, when John Cusack talks about his girlfriend’s plain cotton underwear “hanging on the thing,” and how there are parts of intimacy that aren’t inherently sexy? John Cusack fantasizes about other women, knowing that they too probably have cotton panties, but he only sees them in lingerie. Your girlfriend might not want to taint the sexy intimacy with this moment of puffy-lipped un-sexy intimacy. If you are allowed over to watch her attempt post-procedure ramen slurping, make sure she’s comfy, and if you make any jokes about how she looks puffy, do it with love. And then, yes: Please let go of any hang-ups you might have, and enjoy her beautiful newly plumped lips, which she elected to get done just because she wanted to. Since you’ve been so supportive of her choices you get to have fun with those suckers!

How to Tell Your Girlfriend You Still Talk to Your Ex

This handy heap of advice was originally published on GQ.com

Deep breath in, then exhale: It’s not cheating if you still talk to your ex girlfriend. Phew!

If you’re like, “Her? Gross! Meg broke my heart. Why would I want a reminder of that period I pretended to like Dave Matthews Band? I don’t WANT to talk to her”—great, you’re in the clear. But perhaps you shared a deep love with your ex and even though the relationship didn’t work out, you still want to catch up every once in a while. That’s totally chill.

Which is to say, it’s totally chill if your current partner knows you’re still talking to Meg. If she has no idea, you’re being a sneaky dick. Sorry. So here are three tips for telling your current partner about your friendship with your ex in a manner that will allow you to keep them both in your life.

1. Make Sure You’re Over Meg

Here’s the thing: Women know everything. I’m not going to tell you how, but it’s true. If your girlfriend doesn’t already know you’re secretly waxing poetic with your ex via late night text messages, she will soon. So be up front about it. First thing’s first: Why are you up late texting Meg “Crash Into Me” lyrics? Are you miserable in your current relationship and perhaps harboring some unresolved romance for the one that got away? If so, you need to have a larger conversation. But maybe you’ve just had a late-night recollection of the time the Dave Matthews Band tour bus shit all over Chicago and you want to tell Meg because you know she’ll laugh. Go for it! We should never stop talking about that great moment in American history. But even if you just want to be friendly with Meg and maybe get lunch with her when she’s in town, you still have to tell your partner. If you’re wondering if the nature of your friendship with your ex is appropriate, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if it would make you uncomfortable if the situation were reversed.

2. Don’t Tell Her, Ask Her

As stated, your new lover probably already knows that you’re talking to Meg. So just be chill, upfront, and honest about it, as soon as possible into your current relationship. Say this, casually: “Hey Sasha, after Meg and I broke up we kept in touch. She won’t be a huge part of our lives or anything, but we text from time to time and occasionally we grab lunch or coffee and catch up. Does that bother you?” Chances are Sasha won’t be thrilled, but if she’s an understanding, mature human, she’ll understand and allow it. Asking her if she’s okay with you and Meg keeping in touch gives her an opportunity to be Cool Girlfriend. (She’s probably also been in touch with her exes, and your honesty will guilt-trip the crap out of her.)

3. Never mention Meg again.

Never.

3 Easy Ways to Impress Your New Girlfriend’s Friends

Illustration by Cécile Dormeau, originally published in GQ.

It happened. After seeing each other for a few months, your girlfriend has invited you to meet her friends, and you’re apprehensive. They’ve heard all about you (yeah, they know what your dick looks like). You’ve heard all about them: Ashley intimidates you. You’ve already met Molly through other friends and are worried you made a pass three years ago at a holiday party. You like your girlfriend—maybe you even love her. Now you need her friends to like you, too. Here’s how:

Show Up

Once I was dating someone we’ll call Trevor, who didn’t want to meet my friends. I was young and in denial. Of course, it turned out he had another girlfriend in another New York City borough. Before I figured this out, my friends warned me: “We haven’t met Trevor—is this an actual relationship? Are you sure he’s real?” Then one day, when I was taking Trevor to buy a coat (which is a major girlfriend request from someone playing me, by the way, Trevor), we ran into one of my friends on the street. She said out loud in complete disdain, “Oh, my God, you are real. Nice to meet you.” Women are smart. It’s a major red flag if someone doesn’t want to meet your friends. Don’t be like Trevor, who has since been banished from the city. If you’re exclusive and/or have been going out for more than a few months, you have to show up when your girlfriend invites you to meet her friends. And once you’ve shown up (on time), really show up: Make some jokes, ask sincere questions about her friends’ interests, and act affectionate toward your girlfriend. They’ll love you.

Know When to F*ck Off

Avoiding meeting your girlfriend’s friends is suspect, but not knowing when to step back and give her time sans boyfriend is even more annoying. No one likes a significant other who comes to every single happy hour or brunch. Sometimes women can be complicit in dragging their boyfriend everywhere, and if that’s the case, talk to her about it. She needs alone time with her friends. You need alone time with your friends. One of the secrets to a successful relationship is having time with your buddies to bitch about said relationship. Don’t be the clingy boyfriend at all social events wearing an Apple Watch that alerts you whenever your girlfriend tweets (I’ve seen this happen, and the relationship did not work out).

Know That They’re Watching You

Regardless of how amazing you are, your girlfriend is going to talk about you. There are glass-half-full people who can’t stop raving about their perfect relationship, but most of us are cynical assholes who only open our mouths when we want to bitch about something. If she finds out you’ve been texting with your ex, her friends will hear about it. If you come home after taking mushrooms with your friends and start humming “Your Body Is a Wonderland” during a hand job, her friends will hear. A measured appreciation of early-aughts John Mayer is normal. So is getting into a tiff over an ex. However: Acting controlling or overly jealous, or screaming at her, is neither healthy nor normal. If you act like that, she will tell her friends and they will tell her to dump you, regardless of how good your jokes were at brunch. The real secret to winning over your girlfriend’s friends is treating her with respect.


How to Date a Rape Survivor – Latest Article for VICE Broadly

Originally published in Broadly.

We’ve all got baggage. Adding an extra layer to the muddled waters of dating is the highly common and formidable post traumatic stress disorder that can arise from a sexual assault. For me, help came through medical cannabis and a partner down to go down on me while I watch Planet Earth and sip valerian root tea while listening to the calming voice of David Attenborough. RAINN estimates an average of 293,066 Americans (age 12 or older) are victims of sexual violence each year, so it could happen to you or your partner as well.

“Chances are very good that they will date a sexual assault survivor because the rates are so high,” says psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg. “When you are dating or having sex with somebody, you’re interacting with them on the same level which they were violated. So that makes it so tricky.” While all relationships, individuals, and healing processes are different, there are certain general things one can do when dating a survivor of sexual assault.

First and foremost, believe them. “When people tell you their stories, believe them,” says Dr. Greenberg. “The likelihood of someone making that up is probably very, very low. Listen and believe them, and don’t feel like you have to fix things for them, or that you can fix things for then…Let them speak.” In other words, shut the fuck up a bit and let them tell their story – in their own time. “If you love someone, or even if you don’t love them and you’re just trying to have a positive sexual experience with them, you need to let them really sort through it at a pace and level of detail that’s comfortable for them,” says Emily Lindin of The Unslut Project and UnSlut: A Documentary Film which explores sexual shaming, including interviews with the family and friends of Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons was a 17-year-old Canadian student who reportedly hung herself after sexual bullying resulting from photos that surfaced of her alleged gang rape.

When it is appropriate to chime in, it’s important to ask the right questions. “The right questions are not: ‘What happened? Where did you get touched? Where were your parents? Were you drunk?’ Not any accusatory or judgmental questions. Don’t ask about details, ask about triggers,” says Dr. Greenberg. It’s important to go over triggers to prevent a survivor from having to relive an experience. A trigger is something that can remind you of the assault and cause flashbacks. It could be anything from seeing someone on the subway with a similar tattoo to your assaulter, or hearing a word or phrase they used during the attack, or being touched in an unintentionally similar way. It’s shitty for everyone when during sex you’re trying your hardest not to spiral into full panic attack because your boyfriend accidentally did something that surfaced flashbacks from your assault, and it’s also really frustrating to have to listen to them whine about how usually they are so great at getting chicks off with the exact move that’s causing your flashback.

When dating a sexual assault survivor, sometimes you just have to be patient and learn not to take things personally. “This is a tough one, but you really have to work on not taking it personally. Because it’s due to the trauma and not you,” says Dr. Greenberg. “You have to be patient. You’re going to learn how to be gentle, to avoid the triggers, and how to make it a safe and lovely experience. And be forgiving… as they trust you more, things will become easier.”

For some women (and yes – men can be sexual assault survivors too) you’re dealing with persistent old scars that just don’t want to fade. For others, like Kara*, who survived a rape in the past month, her and her boyfriend Jon* are having to navigate triggers bubbling up from a very fresh wound. “What’s so disheartening is that she’s blaming herself, and that she’s responsible for it, or maybe she didn’t do enough stuff,” Jon told me. “I have to encourage her that it’s not true.” The root keeping Kara and Jon strong is that, when they discuss her rape, he remains respectful and reminds her of the number one rule – it wasn’t your fault. Period. “He’s been really helpful, because I’ll sit here and get upset and blame myself and he actually reasons with me,” says Kara.

“When we brought [Kara] to the emergency room, she was covered in bruises, like big hand print bruises,” said Jon. “She [said] ‘I don’t know maybe I didn’t do enough… I bruise easily,’ and I was like, ‘We wrestle, all the time. In bed.’ I’ll put my butt on her face to fart on her. And I was like, ‘You try really hard not to let me fart on you, don’t you?’ And she goes, ‘Yeah, I try my best.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah every time we wrestle you’re trying really hard, but you’re not left with any bruises on you. So when you were in this struggle obviously you were fighting very hard not to leave these bruises.”

As Boyfriend of the Year as Jon seems, he understands that to get through this, Kara will need to see a professional trained in treating assault victims. “He’s been trying to get me to talk to a counselor, which, I will…” says Kara. In order to encourage her, Jon said, he “bribed her with a kitty.” “He did, he’s like you can get a kitten…but you can’t talk to it like your counselor, you have to actually go. It’s a really tiny kitty I think it will help just to take care of something. Putting the love and energy into it,” said Kara.

“You’re going to need to go to therapy and see a crisis counselor – as soon as possible. Because the sooner you see a crisis counselor the less likely you are to get post traumatic stress disorder. They found that with trauma victims are helped immediately they’re much more likely to have a positive outcome,” explains Dr. Greenberg. The healing from a sexual assault is a lifelong process. Even with patience, respect, and time, surviving a rape is something you have to carry with yourself for the rest of your life. Yet, you’re still you. You still want to drink herbal tea while your boyfriend eats you out, or you’re still are going to have to smell your boyfriend’s smelly farts. Life stops for nothing.

“Acknowledge that it is a really important part of their history, [and let] them know that you’re ready to listen when you’re ready to talk, and that you respect them,” says Lindin. “I think it’s important to remember that sexual assault survivors don’t stop being adult humans because they went through this.”