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The Dark Heart of Homophobia

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No podcast today, but there is this…

I’m riding the bus when we come to a stop near a local high school. Five teenage boys get on. They’re all jocks—football, probably. Their jackets are emblazoned with varsity letters and they appear to be fresh from practice. Each carries an oversized duffel.

They are boisterous and full of menacing bravado. The bus is immediately overwhelmed with a rush of testosterone. As they move toward the back of the bus, they purposely jostle everyone in their path. They’re rude and crude and every other word is fuck.

The bus lurches forward, and my fellow passengers instinctively know not to make eye contact. The older women clutch their belongings tight to their bosom. Everyone is tense.

The pack mentality emboldens the young men, who are flush with their newly discovered sense of male privilege. Hormones rage in their adolescent bodies, yet there is an awkward childishness about them too. They are alpha, but only in as much as they are part of a pack.

They have off-color comments for everyone around them. Girls are singled out for the most abuse. They make insinuations about their sexual prowess, while pawing at their groins. The women blush with embarrassment.

Despite being loud, obnoxious and brutish, they lack conviction. They giggle too much, indicating self-consciousness. It’s apparent that, at their core, they are still very uneasy about themselves, and have yet to grow into and own the alpha maleness they mimic.

The bus approaches the next stop, and several of us get up to exit. A nerdy boy with glasses and a violin case accidentally trips over one of the teen’s duffel bags. This is the spark. The jocks erupt, lunging at the offending kid. He is easy prey. He’s petrified, but his survival instincts kick in, and he quickly maneuvers further up the aisle. I grab his shoulder and push him toward the door ahead of me. He makes his escape.

Now I’m in the line of fire. The rear door is only a couple steps away, but I stand my ground. The jocks size me up. I’m not an easy mark; I’m older and more dominant than any of them as individuals, but they trump me as a group. I may even be dangerous. In a split-second, the teens reevaluate the situation and instead of coming at me, they try to take me down with their best verbal shot: “You motherfucking fag!”

I move to the door. This could end very badly for me, but I will not show any weakness. Adrenaline courses through my bloodstream. I alight from the bus, holding the door open so I can briefly yell back. “Hey, thanks for the recognition. Oh, and for your information, its father-fucking, brother-fucking and/or son-fucking fag, never mother-fucking. Get it?”

By the time the jocks realize what’s happened, the bus is in motion, and I am safe.

The teens thought better of physically attacking me, so they did the next best thing. It’s what most threatened males do: they tried to diminish the threat by calling into question my masculinity.  And they do it in that time-honored way—by inferring I was a defective male, a queer, and a sissy. Trouble is, I am queer, and I owned it—right in their faces. On top of that, I stood up to them and even had the temerity to publicly shame them. So that had to be unsettling to them on several levels.

How did the derogatory epithet fag become the quintessential means of destroying the male ego? Why has the only somewhat less offensive slur, “that’s so gay,” become emblematic for everything stupid, negative or girly? These questions get to the root of our culture’s deeply ingrained homophobia.

I contend that homophobia is rooted in a fear and hatred of women. It’s no accident that when we want to denigrate a man we call him a pussy—the same word we use to refer to female genitals. In our culture, men are superior to women—it’s the oily by-product of male privilege. A man who falls short of this lofty ideal, or, god forbid, assumes a passive role in sex, cheapens the “privilege” for all other males. This is a particularly sensitive issue for ostensibly heterosexual men.

This prohibition is so deep-seated in our culture, one can trace its roots back to the Bible. Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.” In biblical days, women were nothing more than chattel. For a man to behave like a woman—particularly in a passive, receptive sexual way—back then was an even greater insult to the male privilege than it is nowadays (which explains the whole capital punishment thing.)

Women are also objectified as sexual objects before men dominate them. A woman is not so much a person as she is a collection of parts—tits, pussy, ass, etc. A heterosexual man, familiar with and practiced in this dynamic, will not tolerate another male objectifying him as a sexual object, either real or imagined.

These cultural triggers are exceptionally easy to trip. With very little effort at all, we can debase a man simply by suggesting that there’s a whiff of the feminine about him. In turn, the slandered male is burdened with proving the contrary, which often leads to overcompensation. To deflect suspicion, some men affect a macho bravado so as to appear even more masculine than their peers. And how better to do that than to suggest someone else is a pansy?

I can say for certain that all those boys on the bus had been, at one time or another, accused of being a fag. It’s exceedingly common in sports for even teammates to insinuate a fellow athlete is not performing up to expectations. Each of them must have known the sting of that reproach. Some may even have had self-doubt about their own sexual tendencies. That’s why they hurled at me what they knew would hurt any other self-respecting male the most.

What they didn’t count on was that I had, long ago, inoculated myself against this poison. I own, even revel, in my queer sexuality. An insult doesn’t work if the one insulted self-identifies as the slur.

Institutionalized homophobia, on the other hand, is more insidious. The dominant culture enshrines male privilege and, like the boys on the bus, punishes anyone who attempts to undercut the paradigm. Discrimination is so widespread, ingrained—and sometimes so subtle—that many non-gay people don’t even notice most of it. But those of us on the receiving end of the bigotry are keenly aware.

It’s a particularly acute problem for young people who know they are different, and different in a way that isn’t tolerated of by the dominant culture. They are much more vulnerable because they have yet to developed the emotional resources to counteract the oppression. They don’t yet realize that it’s society’s problem, not theirs. Their peers mercilessly persecute them. And for the most part, authority figures don’t even try to stop the torment. That’s why young gay people commit suicide at a rate of about seven times that of straight kids.

You may have noticed that I’ve framed this presentation in terms of the natural world. Dominant and submissive behaviors in other species often have sexual overtones, especially in other primate species. A dominant male will harass a male subordinate until he submits and presents his rump. This establishes a pecking order in the troupe: a subordinate male is submissive and the dominant male is in control.

Some straight men see gay men as a threat, instinctively fearing a supposed challenge to the established order of things; who is in control. It’s basically a struggle for dominance and troupe status. A gay person who is a productive member of society, who is indistinguishable from his heterosexual counterparts, ups the ante. He’s a threat to anyone who believes what he may have been told all his life—that gays are perverted, miserable, lonely people who live short, desperate lives.

Institutionalized homophobia impacts so many aspects of our culture. It may be obvious how it skews our notions of sex and sexuality, of who can do what to whom and when. But did you know that it is often an underlying cause of much male sexual dysfunction? It also contaminates national policy in terms of public health issues, military readiness and the rights and freedoms we afford our citizenry. The business sector also suffers. Harassment and intimidation of gay workers result in loss of productivity costing businesses millions every year. But the most tragic is the toll it takes on individual relationships. Families are torn apart, friendships end, and people sometimes are killed or kill themselves over a futile and misguided attempt to uphold the status quo.

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Sexual MYTHBUSTERS, Part 1 – The Big O

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No podcast today, but there is this…

Angie is 20 and she’s having issues, lots of issues.

Hello, I would ask you a question that has been on my mind for a while. I seem to have a problem orgasming without stimulating my clitoris. I suppose that doesn’t really sound like a problem but it’s really starting to annoy me. I would like to be able to enjoy an orgasm without having to stimulate my clit every time! I love having sex and it feels super duper good but why can’t I climax that way? I mean I am aware of where my G-spot is and my boyfriend said he’ll be focusing more on hitting it “spot” on. There’s also another thing I have noticed, sometimes my boyfriend will hit my cervix and it hurts a bit, but is this even normal? Should he even be able to hit it? Or is there something abnormal going on here?

Let’s see, when you say you “love having sex and it feels super duper good but why can’t I climax that way?” Are you referring to full-on cock in cooter fucking when you say, “having sex”? The reason I ask is that not everyone means the same thing when they use that trite euphemism.

Since you’re not here to fill in the blanks, so to speak. I’ll assume you want to know why you can’t have or haven’t yet had a vaginal orgasm. But before I answer, I just want to say that I hope you are not setting up an orgasmic dichotomy where there doesn’t need to be one. That would truly be unwise.

If you are at all familiar with your genital anatomy, you will know that the pleasure centers in that area of your body are all wired together. Your clit, G-spot, pussy, taint (perineum) and butthole are all on the same circuit, so to speak. Each erogenous zone is distinct, of course, but they act in consort with one another. However, not all your parts will generate the same amount of buzz. Since a woman’s clit is at the center of this network of nerves, it tends to dominate all the others and it is generally the quickest way to intense pleasure for most women.

Ok, now my answer. I can’t really say why your not climaxing while you’re fucking. Other than the fact that an exclusively vaginal centered orgasm is a myth. The vast majority of women don’t have vaginal orgasms. In fact the degree of insensitivity inside a woman’s vagina is so high that Kinsey wrote in his seminal work, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female published back in 1953: “Among the women who were tested in our gynecologic sample, less than 14% were at all conscious that they had been touched.” That’s pretty remarkable, wouldn’t you say?

The vaginal orgasm myth is perpetuated, in part, by many women’s confusion and/or lack of knowledge about their own anatomy. Some women believe that an orgasm felt during fucking is centered in their cooch. This suggests to me that they aren’t being precise in locating the center of that orgasm. Other women believe in the vaginal orgasm myth because they think they need to conform to a male oriented notion of female sexuality — fucking = cuming. And that’s simply wrong, don’t cha know. Just ask all the preorgasmic women out there.

But ya know what? I don’t own a pussy my own self. All I can only tell you is what I have learned from those people who actually have a honeypot. The people I’m referring to, we’ll call them females, tell me vaginal orgasms, mythological or not, may simply be dependent on a tone of a woman’s pelvic musculature. As amazing as pussies are, and they are amazing, if the muscles that surround them are not taught and toned enough, a fucking generated orgasm may elude the owner of said pussy.

Some women haven’t developed their PC muscles enough to cum through fucking alone. Are you doing your kegels, Angie? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have some serious remedial research to do.

The elusive vaginal orgasm may also have to do with your partner cock, particularly the girth of his unit and opposed to its length. My women friends tell me that a thicker cock may have more of a chance triggering a vaginal orgasm then a pencil dick. No surprise there, I suppose. Position will also play a role. Why not give a bunch of different positions a try and see if one or another makes a difference? You on top cowgirl style, or doggie style might work best. But it’s your coozie, my dear, and you ought to know it better than I.

As to your G-spot question. That’s another thing all together. I am so glad that you are familiar with your anatomy enough to have found your own personal G-spot. And it’s great to hear that you have an accommodating partner who is working on stimulating this sensitive area. Good for you both! However, while I wholeheartedly endorse and encourage your further investigations and sex play, I do have one caution. I share the concern of most of my women friends. We want you to avoid all the G-spot hype floating around in the popular culture these days. Most women have a good time with their G-spot exploration. They report that it is not particularly difficult to find, but it’s also much harder to pleasure. If a woman, you perhaps, gets it in her head that something amazing is supposed to happen with a G-spot stimulation, she might be setting herself up for disappointment. In the same way some women, you perhaps, set themselves up for disappointment if they buy into the myth of an exclusively vaginal generated orgasm.

I encourage you to see your genitals as a whole, not a bunch of separate parts that somehow work independently of one another. If your pussy is happy and your pussy is making you happy; is it really all that important how the happiness comes to be?

In comparison us men folk are not all that fussy. What gets us off; gets us off. I never hear from a guy who is disappointed because he’s not having an exclusively prostate generated orgasm. They do happen, but we’re not the least bit concerned when they don’t happen. I also never hear from a guy who thinks he should be orgasmic through manipulation of his balls alone. That can happen too, but we’re not holding our breath for them.

What I do hear from guys is that we often need a particular kind of dick-oriented stimulation to get us off. And this is where the men folk and the women folk are a whole lot alike. You, like us, probably need a particular kind of stimulation to get you off. Be it vaginal, clitoral, G-spot, or whatever. If you acknowledge that your genitals are a composite of parts that work together to bring you joy, then you’ll be less likely to be swayed by the claims, hype and misinformation about female sexual response.

Regarding the issue of your boyfriend hitting your cervix. Yeah, that’ll hurt, don’t cha know. I’d be willing to guess that he’s in the wrong position and being too athletic in his pumping when that happens. If he’s bumping your cervix, but you like the depth and athleticism of his manly thrusts, simply change position. That should remedy the problem.

Finally, I’d simply advise you to respect the uniqueness of your body and your sexual response cycle. If it’s your clit that delivers the big O, even though you are being pleasured elsewhere. Then by all means, stimulate your clit while whatever else is happening, and enjoy the ride.

Good luck

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The Self-Sexological Exam

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No podcast today; instead there’s this…

The Ballad of Sylvie

Hi, my name is Sylvie. I’m 24 and I’ve been sexually active for three year, but I’ve never had an orgasm…at least not that I know of. I hear my friends talk about their orgasms and I know I should talk to them, but I don’t want them to know. Do you think there’s something wrong with me?

Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this complaint over the years, I’d be a wealthy man. Even in this day and age where sexual messages permeate the popular culture, there are still some women who are unversed about orgasms and their own bodies.

However, I almost never hear this from men. Sure, our sexual response cycle is more obvious. When we’re at attention, we’re at attention. I often wonder what the world would be like if men had as hard a time getting off as some women do.…

But let’s begin with dispelling the notion that there may be something wrong with you. There isn’t. You do, however, fall into a category we in the biz call “pre-orgasmic.” The idea is that you’re going to be orgasmic one day—you’ve just not accomplished it yet.

And I’m gonna assume a couple of things, even though I think it’s really dangerous to make assumptions in this line of work: 1. You’ve never had an orgasm, because you’d sure as hell know it if ya had. 2. You are sexually active with male partners.

I’m going out on this limb because I absolutely never hear from pre-orgasmic lesbians. And it stands to reason—lesbians tend to be more attuned to their bodies, and they certainly know their way around the bodies of their partners. But I digress.

Orgasms don’t come easily for some women. I suppose there are as many reasons for this as there are pre-orgasmic women. A woman’s pleasure center (her clit) is more subtle and less obvious than a man’s raging boner. Women are socialized about sexuality—even nowadays—in a much different way then men are. Men have more cultural permissions to be sexually adventuresome than do women. And, truth be told, men have never needed any permission to get themselves off!

The Ballad of Amy

Case in point: When I was just beginning my practice, a young couple, Joel and Amy, visited me with this very issue. As I’d soon learn, Joel considered himself a top-notch cocksmith. He was fond of saying that he could reduce any woman to blubbering jelly with either his mouth or his magic wand. But Joel was completely flummoxed to discover that the love of his life was immune to his sexual prowess—so he hauled the little woman in for my diagnosis.

Amy, for her part, squirmed with discomfort. I thought she’d absolutely die as Joel detailed the explicit intimacies of their lovemaking. I knew I’d get nowhere with Amy while Joel was there, so I told him to take a hike while she and I had a chat.

I first asked Amy about the early messages she got about her body. She thought for a moment and answered: “I don’t know if this is what you mean, but one of my earliest recollections is my mother teaching me to wash myself. I must have been no more than 3 or 4. She began by telling me I should wash my body like we washed dishes. First and foremost, I was to attend to my hair, my face and my hands—like we would first wash the fine crystal and silverware—because they would be what would attract a husband. Then I was to wash the rest of my body. Finally, at the end of the bath, I should wash my genitals…but only with a different cloth than the one I used on the rest of me…just like we washed the pots and pans.”

This unearthed memory startled Amy. Even though she hadn’t thought about it for years, she realized she continued to wash herself in the same manner to that very day. And she followed that revelation with one equally astonishing. She told me that once she reached puberty, her mother took her aside for “The Big Talk.” Menstruation and all the embarrassment and confusion that came with it added to the “pot and pan” imagery. As to her genitals, her mother said: “You must save that for the one you love and will marry.”

“This dirty part, this thing that’s cursed with a monthly unclean bloodletting was supposed to be SAVED for the man of my dreams. YUCK! Why?”

Poor Amy! She was a tangle of mixed messages. No wonder she was pre-orgasmic. No wonder fucking Joel, despite her love for him, was a teeth-clenching chore. No wonder his begging to eat her pussy was met with, “Oh, please don’t!”

There was a lot of work to be done, but she was eager to begin.

We started her with journaling and a self-sexological exam. I instructed Amy to get a hand mirror and a detailed diagram of female genitalia. She was to familiarize herself and make friends with her estranged pussy. Her exam would entail a touch-test. Every square inch from her anus to her navel was to be tested for sensitivity. I suggested she draw pictures of herself and color them to represent the levels of sensitivity: red being the hottest and most pleasurable areas; blue being more neutral, and all the colors in-between. I encouraged her to try this exercise first with a dry hand, then a wet hand using a personal lubricant. I encouraged her to spend at least 30 minutes a day for three consecutive days. She had a lot of reacquainting to do.

And this was to be private time. Joel was not to be invited.

On the forth day, if she was ready, she could invite Joel to join her. No pressure; just a suggestion. But whenever she was ready to invite Joel, he could only attend as a guest, NOT a participant. Joel was only to receive the royal tour of Amy’s fabulous cunt. She was to show Joel her drawings, and once the show was over, that was it. No fucking, no sucking, no nothing—this was only to be an exhibition.

Poor Joel was beside himself. He couldn’t see the logic of him not being involved. I had to impress upon him that this was Amy’s work—not his. And if he just held on to that magic johnson of his, he’d be back with an orgasmic Amy in no time—but he had to be patient.

When next we were together, Amy shared her artwork with me. I could tell right away from pictures she’d drawn and colored that she’d found her clit. Amy was extremely pleased with her “newfound” pussy. She was eager to take it to the next level.

The following week’s play would include a vibrator. Amy was to buy the one she wanted, take it home and introduce it to her pussy. Using the pictures she’d created, she was to throw it into first gear and start making small, lazy circles around the blue areas, working her way to the bright red areas. She was to do this privately for 30 minutes for three consecutive days or until there was a breakthrough.

I knew this wouldn’t take long, and it didn’t. The very next day, I got the anticipated phone call. Amy was breathless.

“Holy shit, I did it!” She exclaimed. “I saw stars—the earth moved and I made so much noise that Joel came running into the room. He thought I’d somehow hurt myself. He stood there stunned as I threw myself another screaming me-me.” I loved the way she already had a name for her orgasms…screaming me-me’s.

And that’s how Amy went from pre-orgasmic to I totally know how to give myself a big fat juicy orgasm in a matter of a couple of weeks.

The Ballad of Becoming Presently Orgasmic

Now let’s review for you, Sylvie. The basic formula for achieving an orgasm is acquainting yourself with your pussy. Map out all the points of interest. Find out what feels good, and repeat it. The object of this first step is not to stress about having an orgasm—it’s all about reconnecting with your body.

The more you know about yourself, the better you’re gonna be at slamming yourself a “screamin’ me-me”. Knowing your way around your pussy is also helpful in partnered sex, especially if your partner doesn’t know shit from Shinola about your pussy.

Step two is masturbation. You may have tried before without success. This time, thanks to step one, you’ll better know your hot spots. I’m a big fan of full body masturbation. So while you’re diddling, be sure to spread the sexual energy all over your body—tits, ass, feet, mouth, whatever you like—stroke, pinch, pat, massage, and rub yourself all over. Vary your breathing, gyrate your hips, listen to sexy music, rent some porn, watch yourself in a mirror, or throw in some Kegel exercises. Try a wet hand. Play with yourself in the bath. Hell, dance around naked with a jewel in your navel…whatever it takes.

Like Amy, many women experience their first orgasm with the help of a vibrator. I encourage you to experiment with one—or try another sex toy.

Be sure to keep a journal during this exploratory period. This will help you later to bridge the gap in communicating with your partners.

Good luck!

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Elemental, my dear Watson!

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Hey sex fans,

This week’s Product Review Friday is coming your way a day late. Technical difficulties {damn internet tubes!} prohibited me from posting this yesterday, Friday. But you know what they say, better late than never.

The Dr Dick Review Crew and I are delighted to welcome a new retailer to our happy family — Vibrator.com. They are the purveyors of fine sex toys and they sent us a new Tantus product for review.

Review crew members, Ken & Denise, are here to show you around.

Elements Pi —— $49.00

Ken & Denise
Denise: “The Review Crew has reviewed a few Tantus products so far. You can find them HERE.  From all we’ve seen, Tantus is a health conscious and pleasure centric company that is producing some really wonderful products.”
Ken: “The Elements Pi is a real good example of this corporate philosophy. It is made of 100% pure silicone, so you’ll never have to worry about using it internally. It is completely non-toxic and safe.”
Denise: “And because it’s nonporous high-grade silicone it is easy to clean and you can sterilize it too. This makes it the perfect toy to share.”
Ken: “And since both Denise and I are totally into our butts we love a toy we can share!”
Denise: “The Elements Pi is ideal for the novice butt pirate. It comes with a removable vibrator and features an arch of bead-shaped ripples from a very slim 5/8″ up to 1 1/4″ diameter. Its ergonomic base is molded to the probe end. And the silicone warms to your body. It also makes it is very pliable and comfortable.”
Ken: “The base also has a bit of a tab on it so that when inserted it provides a little extra ‘taint’ (perineum) massage. Very nice!”
Denise: “You should also know that the Elements Pi doubles as a fantastic G-spot vibe. The textured pad on the base, that Ken just mentioned, is an effective clit stimulator too.”
Ken: “If you are new to ass play, you’ll want to keep in mind that you need a lot of lube for any insertions. And in the case of the Elements Pi, because it is a quality silicone toy, you can only use a water-based lube. A silicone-based lube would degrade the toy’s surface and you don’t want that.”
Denise: “Ken and I can’t decide if the Elements Pi is a plug or a probe. I say it’s a little of both. The graduated sized beads on the shaft make for easy insertion even for someone unfamiliar with anything in her/his butt. The user can enjoy just hanging out with the toy on each of its ridges.”
Ken: “That’s true enough, but if it was supposed to be a plug, then there should have been another ridge or notch on the shaft at the base so that my ass sphincter could clamp down on it and keep the Elements Pi in place. As it is, that doesn’t happen and so I found that it kept slipping out of my hole. This was disappointing when I tried to use it as a plug in my ass while fucking Denise. But, I must say, it is terrific to sit on.”
Denise: “The bullet vibe that nestles in the base of the Elements Pi comes already loaded with batteries; those little round watch batteries. It has only the one speed, but I suppose you could easily swap it out for a dual-speed bullet of the same size.”
Full review HERE.

ENJOY

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Come As You Are

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Name: Valeri
Gender: Female
Age: 38
Location: Dubuque IA
Dr Dick: I just went through a very painful divorce. My husband of 18 years up and decided that he wanted to start over…in a new job, in a new state with a new girlfriend, someone 12 years his junior. I must be completely blind, because I didn’t see any of this coming. Sure we had our problems, what marriage doesn’t? I want to move on too, but I feel so stuck. I feel like this big loser. The few tentative forays into dating have been horrible. Every guy I meet is this lying sack of shit. Sorry, does that sound too bitter? HELP!

Damn girl, that’s fucked…big time! It’s hell when relationships go belly-up, and I don’t care if they are business relationships or relationships of the heart. If there’s an established bond of trust that is broken it’s gonna smart. And when the bond is broken unilaterally, it’s even worse. But what can you expect when you’re dealing with humans.

Surviving a break-up is not unlike surviving a death. In fact, the demise of a relationship is very much a death in every sense of the word. I believe that any relationship worth talking about has a life of its own; you see, it’s greater then the sum of its parts. I gotta tell ya, I see a lot of this in my private practice. A couple drags in their relationship and it’s immediately apparent that it’s on life support. They’ve actively throttled the relationship to within an inch of its life, and they want me to fix it. Most of the time the option to “fix” has long passed. All we can hope to do, at this point, is preside over the death of the thing, providing its passing with as much dignity as possible. But to tell the truth, when a relationship is in such grave condition, and there is very little good will left between the partners, sadly there’s not gonna be a lot of dignity when the thing finally expires. It breaks my heart, but what are ya gonna do?

Many years ago a therapist working with sick and dying people wrote a book called, On Death and Dying. In it the author, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, identified five stages of dying — 1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.” 2. Anger: “Why ME? This is so unfair!” 3. Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my son graduate.” 4. Depression: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” 5. Acceptance: “It’s going to be OK.”

I find it helpful to use these same identifiable stages to talk about the end of a relationship, particularly a relationship that ends unilaterally. If you don’t mind I’d like to walk through these stages with you so that you can see how applicable they are to someone in your situation.

Grieving the death of a loved one, or a relationship, involves the whole of us — our physical, emotional and social selves. We have to relearn, or cognitively adjust to, our new self without the loved one or relationship. Moving through the end of things is hard to work. And to survive it; we need be patient with ourselves. You, on the other hand, seem to be having a particular problem with this since you say you feel like a loser. That kind of mindset is not going be particularly helpful. So, if you can please jettison that kind of thinking. Or at least try to have a bit more compassion for yourself. Maybe you could shelf that self-deprecation for a while, until you get your bearings once again.

A person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and so she rejects it instead, insisting that it can’t possibly be true despite overwhelming evidence. This is Stage 1 — Denial! “Honey, I’m moving out. I’m getting a new job in a new state. Oh, and I have this new, much younger girlfriend too.” “This can’t be happening! Sure we’ve had our troubles, I’ll grant you that. But so does every relationship.” Denying the reality of the unpleasant fact may actually serve a purpose. It’s a coping mechanism for dealing with something overwhelming and too shocking to take in at once.

We have a gut-wrenching emotional response to the injustice, humiliation, and betrayal. This is Stage 2 — Anger. Depending on the kind of person we are, we may actively express our anger by lashing out verbally or physically. Or we may passively express our anger — turning it inward becoming silent, sulking or passive-aggressive. We may even consider harming our self as a way of punishing the other.

We try to fix what’s wrong. This is Stage 3 — Bargaining. “We can make this work! I’ll change, I promise! I know I can make you happy. Stay for the sake of the kids. What will the neighbors say? This will kill your mother! What does she have that I don’t have? You’ll never be able to show your face in this town again.” Hmmm, does any of this sound familiar, Valeri?

All our efforts to reverse the inevitable course of things leave us emotionally drained and exhausted. This is Stage 4 — Depression. Why bother with anything — family, friends, work, personal appearances, whatever — life as we knew it is over. We can’t seem to project ourselves beyond the ending of things. In the bleakness we often begin to self-medicate. A little too much food, booze, drugs? As if depression is not punishing enough, we often pile it on. I’ve heard some many people say; “hurting myself is the only thing that makes me feel I’m still alive.”

Slowly we begin to regroup. Maybe it’s through sheer willpower, or the interventions of friends and family, or maybe it’s just time itself. But we stop resisting and move toward acquiescence. This is Stage 5 — Acceptance. We stop resisting what we cannot change. Even if the end was un-chosen, undesired and inescapable, we can still willingly choose to accept it.

I hasten to add that these stages are guidelines. They are not presented in the order that they always happen. Nor is one stage predicated on the other. How long a person is in one stage or another is situational. However, I do hope this was helpful. What is certain is you will experience a wide range of feelings and emotions.

Some suggest the therapy of keeping yourself busy as a means of healing and moving on. This may sound elemental, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Most of us tend to wallow in our misery. We are way too indulgent with sitting on the pitty-pot. While you definitely need time to recover from the divorce, this period of heartache will have an end. And ends of things always led to beginnings of other things.

You now have certain freedoms that you may not have had while you were married. Once the initial period of grieving is over, it is important to jump back into life. Become more involved in your social group. Going out might seem unappealing at first, but it’s better than staying home and feeling sorry for yourself. If you’re only dating assholes, I’ll bet you’re fishing in the wrong holes, so to speak. The internet makes it so much easier to connect with quality people of ever stripe. Use this tool wisely. May I suggest that you start by connecting with people with similar interests as you, rather than posting a profile and photos on a dating site.

Of course, it is necessary to have some time with yourself to realize that you can survive and even be happy without your dick of a husband. The secret to successful grieving is that you need to feel the pain in order to get through it. Therefore, using drugs (prescription or recreational) and alcohol to numb yourself only make things worse.

You might consider working with a therapist to help you understand why your relationship ended. With a little luck you’ll learn how to avoid blaming yourself for the demise. No one is without fault, and your husband definitely has more than his share. But blaming him for everything will do you no good. You are neither totally to blame, nor are you the helpless victim. Lingering at either extreme will rob you of your self-esteem.

At first, being single might seem weird or even unappealing. But being single has its perks. Being single allows you to focus on you and take better care of yourself. And what better way to do that then by reconnecting with your sexual-self. Masturbation is gonna be your best friend during this transition period. Lavish time and pleasure on yourself. You’re worth it! Indulge yourself; instead of chocolate, get yourself a supped up vibrator and kick that thing into first gear, maybe even second! By spending more private sexual time with yourself, you’ll reconnect with who you are and what you want. This will make it easier for you to later choose a partner who can and will satisfy your needs.

Good luck

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