How do I tell my friend that they need to love themselves before they can love others?
Now, isn’t this the million-dollar question? It can be so hard to see someone we care for and love let others treat them poorly or think lowly of themselves. I’m sure I’m not the only one still haunted by that line from “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
When it comes to people with low self-esteem and a lack of self-love, it can be really challenging to believe we are worthy of love, affection, respect, kindness — so much so that we can’t even believe it from those closest to us. However, it is important to hear. So, remind your friend how much you love them, the things you love about them. Remind them that they have so many people who care about them. Stand by them as they make mistakes or walk themselves into situations you know will end badly. Give them a shoulder to cry on, pick them up when they fall and never stop reminding them that they deserve better. We accept the love we think we deserve. So, show them that they deserve the world.
Lastly, remember that you cannot help someone who isn’t willing to help themselves. No matter how often you remind them to love themselves, it is up to them to learn, to grow, to heal. It may be a long and slow process, but it will happen. Be patient and be kind. Always.
In “Emily in Paris,” there was this one scene where she tried to have phone sex with her long-distance boyfriend and it went terribly. Kinda freaked me out. I feel very confused on how I am supposed to navigate virtual sex without being awkward. My partner is def not trying to force me to do anything I’m uncomfortable with, I just don’t even know what I could be trying?
Scarred from Emily in Paris
Dear Scarred from Emily in Paris,
I haven’t watched “Emily in Paris,” but there are so many TV shows and movies that depict various forms of virtual sex and intimacy that often leave the audience groaning at the sheer cringe of it all. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would recommend steering clear of the 2012 film, “For a Good Time, Call…” It’s just … no.
I absolutely understand your fear and hesitation when it comes to virtual sex. Sex and intimacy of any kind are scary! Even when you are in a loving, trusting relationship without the pressures and expectations force-fed to you by society and the media, they are still scary. The first and most important thing to remember is this: consent. Phone sex is not an obligatory thing, and some people just don’t enjoy it. If phone sex is scary or uncomfortable for you, it is okay to just say no. Phone sex, virtual sex and sexting all need consent just like sex in real life does. Phone sex can be really great if you connect with your partner and feel safe enough to be vulnerable, but it is not something you absolutely have to try and enjoy.
If it is something you are interested in, talk to your partner about it. Try to voice some of your concerns and hesitations, be clear in communicating what you do and don’t want and then see what happens. Watch porn, grab your vibrator or read some erotica beforehand to get you going and take your mind off of that awkwardness you might feel at the start. Get rid of distractions, like having your door unlocked or your window open. Ease into it like you would most other sexual situations. Talk casually, be a little flirty and build it up with foreplay. The best part about phone sex, for most people, is knowing that their partner was thinking about them. As long as you are sharing that with your partner, and vice versa, you’ll most likely have a good time.
If you do decide to give phone sex a try, check in with your partner afterward. Just as you would discuss a new sex position or kink you introduce into the bedroom with your partner to make sure everyone is on board, do the same with phone sex. Make sure you had a good time, make sure your partner had a good time, talk about what went right and what went wrong, and decide if it’s something you want to do again. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, and you can always change your mind.
TV and movies can be really fun, but they also can give us a really inaccurate depiction of relationships and sex. It is absolutely okay to be freaked out by something you see on TV (“Nymphomaniac,” I’m looking at you), but just remember that your sex life is your own.
Check out the published works of certified sex educator and published author, Gigi Engle, for more information on phone sex, relationships, and intimacy. Or, for a more scientific backing of the novelty aspect in sex (Ooh! New and shiny!), try reading “The novelty exploration bonus and its attentional modulation” by Ruth M Krebs, Björn H Schott, Hartmut Schütze and Emrah Düzel in Neuropsychologia.