ASK RAVEN: THERAPY SESSION 3
After speaking with you all during our "Protect Your Crown" panel at TGMDAY2018, I'm happy to continue to share my professional advice on this column! Please email us at email@example.com with any questions and I'll do my best to answer them. Here's what we have for June:
How do I talk to my significant other about consent, even though we are in a relationship and we've already been intimate?
Consent should be an ongoing conversation in any intimate relationship. Our sexual boundaries evolve and shift as much as we do. People are ever changing, therefore it makes sense that you want to talk about consent.
It’s important to talk about the role of consent inside and outside of the sexual relationship. Conduct with ex’s, how much intimate information is shared among friends, family, co-workers. All of that falls under consent. You and your partner are different people and it’s important that neither of you assumes that you have the same boundaries. Consent at its essence is about communication.
So how do you approach this with your partner? Well, without knowing the specifics of your relationship or what you want to talk about, I’m going to assume that you are in a healthy sexual relationship, one where your partner is receptive to your wants and needs.
I suggest trying to have regular conversations about the “state of your union”
You can come up with a list of weekly check in questions that cover consent and other important things that pertain to your specific relationship.
Ex: Did You/I feel listened to? Seen? Respected, and heard this week?
The aim is to normalize conversations about consent (among other topics) with you and your boo(s). You now both have an opportunity to practice the art of communication and the onus doesn’t fall on one person to do the communicating.
However, if you feel that you may lose your partner, be in danger, or feel unsafe. You should consider reaching out to your support circle or a mental health professional. Everyone should feel safe in their relationship!
I'd like to have more open dialogue with my mother about sex, but not sure how. How do I not make it awkward? - Ready but Shy
Hey there Ready but Shy,
First, ask yourself why? Why is it important for you to have a more open dialogue with your mom about sex? Is there something you want to tell her? Something you want to find out? Do you want to push her to be more open minded? A desire to connect with her adult to adult? Remember the Oscar Wilde quote “everything in the world is about sex, except sex...” so I want to push you to ask yourself. What’s your motive?
When it comes to potentially awkward conversations it’s a good idea to be clear about our own motivations and the desired outcome. This way you can manage your own expectations if things don’t go the way you hoped.
Without knowing your mama, chances are if you are an adult (or close to it) and if the conversation never came up in a way that felt like a “green light” to bring sex up again, then she’s not comfortable talking about it.
In this scenario awkwardness is inevitable and guaranteed. Awkwardness is not something you’ll get to skip over to get to the good part. If you want to have this openness with your mom then you have to be willing to be there for her (and yourself) as you experience the discomfort of growth together. Open dialogue is not one sided and if that’s what you want, you have to be available for the messy, confusing, and challenging parts of it. The beauty is being able to find common ground. If you want to be able to talk to your mama take the risk, and embrace the messiness of it all. Good luck! You got this.
My partners family wants to be way too involved in our life as a couple and it's starting to cause problems... I want her to speak to them but every time I've brought it up she gets defensive. I want to create healthy boundaries before it messes up the relationship. Any tips? - Annoyed
The first thing I would advise you to do is to shift the focus from the family and to your partner. They aren’t the problem. It’s not like a boundary has been set and they are ignoring it. It’s seems like you and your partner are not on the same page. And one of you won’t even have the conversation. Although frustrating, familial boundary setting comes up in almost every intimate relationship I have encountered. You are correct in thinking that boundary setting with families is not a topic you can afford to gloss over.
There are a lot of reasons why your partner may have difficulty or is outright unwilling to set boundaries. While her family may want to be “too involved” you both should try to understand why the mere mention of boundaries creates defensiveness.
First, chose a neutral time to ask. Right after an argument, when you are angry or frustrated, or when she is defensive is not the right time.
Instead of trying to tackle it all at once start off by asking one question.
“I feel like it’s difficult to have a conversation with you about setting boundaries with your family and I want to understand where you are coming from so I can support you”
Remember you aren’t trying to “win” or be “right”. You want to establish and work towards a common goal. You might have to be the bigger person here in order to get what you want with the one you love.
Compromise, communication, and humility are key when navigating familial boundaries. Understand that you partner might not be ready to do what needs to be done. Ask yourself, what does it look like to meet each other halfway?
Post Illustration by Loveis Wise, find her here!