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Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Tricks from an Old Dog

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My guy and I broke up for nine months last year. We have since worked out our problems and are happily back together. While we were apart, he dated and had sex with another woman. When we first started seeing each other again, he asked me to do some things during sex that were not in our repertoire before, so obviously they came from him having sex with someone else. It made me very uncomfortable-not with the act itself, but because of the fact that he did this with someone else first. Is there any way to get over these feelings?

Oh, feelings-sometimes they pop up even when we don't want them to. It sounds like you realize that your sense of discomfort may be a tad irrational. Your boyfriend wasn't cheating or lying, and it's common for people to have more than one sexual partner in their lifetimes, so no big deal, right? You don't say whether or not this is the case, but if you or your guy had other sexual partners before you met each other, then you both have sexual activities that you did with someone else first. So why should these particular new acts matter?

Unfortunately, our emotions are never that simple.

The first step to moving beyond these feelings is figuring out where your discomfort is coming from. You could be worried that the woman from whom he learned these new tricks is somehow "better" than you-sexier, more adventurous, more sexually skilled, etc. It's not uncommon to project unrealistically amazing qualities onto a partner's ex- or new girlfriend, especially if you've never met that person.

You could also feel uncomfortable because a new sex act reminds you of the nine months that you were apart. Maybe you prefer to look forward into the future of your relationship instead of back at your past problems, or perhaps those nine months were difficult ones for you. Either way, if you think these new techniques are things that he learned while you were broken up, then being asked to participate in them can quickly jolt you back to the past.

There could be many other reasons for your discomfort, but regardless, once you've pinpointed it, you can work to address that underlying issue rather than letting it interfere with your sex life.

I wouldn't say that it's a given that he learned these new techniques from another partner. There are educational books and DVDs available on almost every conceivable sex-related topic, and I wouldn't recommend them to people if I didn't think that you could learn new skills from them. We offer classes at the Tool Shed for the same reason. If you haven't talked to him about where he got these new ideas, then don't torment yourself by jumping to conclusions. Maybe the possibility that he did some extensive reading or watched a lot of porn while you were apart will set your mind at ease.

You could also take this opportunity to stage your own sexual renaissance. Is there some sexy thing that you've been curious about, but haven't tried yet? Your guy got the ball rolling by introducing one new technique, and you can keep it going by mixing it up even further. Many people long for those early, heady days of a relationship when sexual desire runs high and everything is new. Now that you've recommitted to each other, take advantage of your passion to recapture that "new" feeling and expand your sexual repertoire. The things that your boyfriend asked you to try can then just be some of the many new activities that you're experimenting with together now that you're back in a relationship.

It may also help for you to take this new sex act and make it your own, since you say that the act itself does not cause you any discomfort (and could, perhaps, be something you enjoyed if you weren't worried about it). For example, let's say you got back together with your guy, and he told you he was interested in G-spot stimulation. Instead of worrying about where he got this idea, you could read books, watch DVDs, experiment during masturbation or solo play, get some new toys to play with, and generally become a G-spot guru. Be proactive and enthusiastic about this new area of your sex life. Who cares if you're not the first-you can be the best or the most fun! Somehow, your boyfriend has discovered a new thing that gives him pleasure, and he wants to share it with you. If you view this sharing as a positive development, it will be.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them tolaura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns theTool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.

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