Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Sex And OCD

In Dating, Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on April 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Redefining fun, one move at a time.

Hi Yenta,

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly a year now, and it is better than I ever imagined a relationship could be. We live together, we have a cat, and we are both very happy. The problem is this: my OCD makes any type of sex impossible.

We are plenty intimate – we mostly pleasure each other by mutual masturbation – but I can’t even bear to be completely naked with him when we do this for fear of fluids. He is very patient and understanding, but I worry about how long that will last.

He wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but there is a very real possibility that it will be a very long time – if ever – before I am able to have sex, and I am afraid that he will eventually start to resent me for it. Is it possible to have a lasting romantic relationship without sex?

Thanks for your help!

-Keepin’ It Dry

Dear KID,

When you say “my OCD,” it sounds like, “my puppy,” or “ my favorite cat.”  If your OCD is held and coddled, it will snuggle you and remain with you.  I don’t know where you are in your healing process, but I encourage you to challenge your OCD threshold.

That is to say, how far can your disorder go until it runs your life?  Phobias are real, OCD is real, anxiety is real: but human beings have an even realer capacity for healing.  With proper time, care and attention one can reverse, or at least lessen these types of discomforts.

If you have not already tried, perhaps begin first by thinking outside the therapy box, and later, outside the sexual box.   Ie, instead of Psychiatry, dabble in the other healing arts for answers to your questions.  To every thing there is a season, and to every ailment, there is a root. Working with an acupuncturist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, sex therapist, massage therapist,  sexual surrogate, shaman or even a regular psychologist or clinical social worker could begin to address your fears of fluids from a new angle.  Other ideas: doctor-monitored herbal remedies, yoga, meditation, and/or drastic changes in diet.

On the flip side, you could also take another route.  That is the route of acceptance.  This means accepting you will never sleep with your man in the traditionally anticipated way.  You worry about him, and I worry about you.  Are you selling yourself short sexually by so quickly giving your OCD free rein in the bedroom?

If not, maybe this is your threshold.  Maybe this sex, at all, is your triumph in which case I congratulate you.  And the truth is that yes, sexless relationships are possible.  Especially in your case, where you are actually having sex, just not intercourse.  A lifetime commitment to mutual masturbation has happened before and can be a phenomenal way to explore the less-known regions of sexuality and sexual pleasure.

Click here for details on enhancing sex without intercourse.  Everything from new forms of touch and activity, to using other senses and forms, like talking, smelling, etc as means of enhancing your bedroom delights.

Other reads:

Sex Without Intercourse by Gerda Mundinger, a book of anecdotes from real people on how they enjoyed each other without “doing it.”

Let Me Count The Ways: Sex Without Intercourse by Marty Klein, Ph.D. and Riki Robbins, Ph.D.

I am all for you committing to and celebrating a non-intercourse-having existence, as long as that celebration is not a way of quitting and selling yourself and your partner short before reaching towards healing your phobias.  Our bodies are limitless in the knowledge and secrets they hold, you might need to grin and bare it and begin (again) the arduous process of exploring the underside of your OCD.

Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

yenta yenta yenta

Prayer On The Road

In Career, Mental Health on February 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Even on tour, Madonna finds time for G-d.

Dear Yenta,

I am 27 and just got a job that involves traveling. I am from a small Jewish community and am worried about missing Shabbat and feeling isolated. Is there anything you have to offer? My job is based in the US, and only rarely we go abroad.


Wandering Jew

Dear WJ,

Vagabonding is a normal and easy state for some, and rocks the core of others. If you have a Type A personality, the lack of control and structure can be torture. I heard many a story from the Obama campaign about moving and roaming on a nightly basis. A few things in the face of such constant travel can help.

One, a gentleness and kindness with oneself. Keep a journal, bring bath salts, invest in a robe. Two, friends and family. And three, well, G-d. Yes, that three, or in my case, two letter word and the community that goes with it. Church and synagogue, a meditation session, an AA meeting, pick your poison. Whatever it is that reminds you that you are connected to something bigger than the roving body you inhabit will help as you flit across the country and beyond.

In lieu of actual Jewish resources, here is a list of some of my favorite synagogues and communities across America. In addition to these, you can find your own with just a little research. When I was a constant traveler I made sure I went to synagogue every Friday, a meditation center whenever I could find one, and yoga twice a week in a effort to stay as sane as possible. If you call a synagogue in advance and tell them you will be in town on business, I guaruntee they will find a home to host you for a homecooked Shabbos meal. If they don’t, I will cook you dinner myself next time I am in America.

The List:

There is one in practically every city, and they are very welcoming to travelers looking to honor Shabbat.

Adventure Rabbi
This woman brings her torah on ski trips, to hiking summits, etc, and leads services and weddings in the wilderness.
Boulder, CO

Nashuva: A Soulful Community for Prayer in Action
Services involve live music, chanting, silence, etc. Feels like revival.
Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Naomi Levy – famous, particularly for her book “To Begin Again.”

HaMakom: The Place for Passionate and Progressive Judaism
Santa Fe, NM
Led by a lesbian rabbi who leads community discussion and learning as part of the service.

Rabbi Malka Drucker

B’nai Jeshurun
“B’nai Jeshurun is a passionate Jewish community that inspires spiritual searching, lifts the soul, challenges the mind, and requires social responsibility and action.”
New York, NY

Tikkun Leil Shabbat: Songful, soulful sabbath services featuring a teaching about a social justice issue and followed by a potluck vegetarian dinner.
Washington, DC

Bet Mishpachah: An Egalitarian Synagogue Embracing Diversity
GLBT synagogue in DC with services led by congregants. No rabbi.
Washington, DC

Gishmey Bracha: Rain of Blessings
Online resource for spiritual Judaism.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon

Am Hayam: Cape Cod Havurah
Community-led prayer, potlucks, and learning. Mostly elderly, but a terrific model for positive Judaism and community.
Eastham, MA

Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center (Reform)
Services conducted in a circle around a table with a seated female rabbi.
Parsha is delivered in a discussion form with the whole community.
Vineyard Haven, MA

Rabbi Caryn Broitman

Pardes Levavot: A Jewish Renewal Congregation
Lafayette, CO

Rabbis Nadya and Victor Gross

Yesod Foundation: The Reb Zalman Legacy Project

Nevei Kodesh: Jewish Renewal Community of Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, CO

Rabbi Tirzeh Firestone

Fabrangen: An Independent, Egalitarian, Particapatory Havurah
Washington, DC

Have a favorite synagogue or community? Please share!

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Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

10 Ways to Help Japan

In Health and Body, Mental Health on February 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Lady Gaga designed this bracelet to raise funds. Buy one at

Here is a list of 10 organizations and causes working to bring relief to Japan. Give to one, give to all. Do what you can, hug a friend, donate a billion – whatever it is, I believe it will help.

1) Searching For Loved Ones

For any who have loved ones abroad, Google has stepped up to help. Along with a tsunami alert posted on its front page, Google has launched the Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster. Google has also launched a crisis response page filled with local resources and emergency information.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.

2) Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and The Jewish Federation
Click on the links above to donate online now. You may also give by mail or phone: For Joint Distribution Committee – Check payable to JDC, please specify the program name. Attn: JDC, P.O. Box 530, 132 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017, (212) 687-6200.

Re: Jewish Federation, to donate by check, please make the check out to The Jewish Federations of North America and clearly mark JFNA Japan, Hawaii and the Pacific Relief Fund on the bottom of the check. The check should be sent to: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268

3) The American Red Cross and Save the Children

The Red Cross has already launched efforts in Japan. Visit or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.

Save the Children has also responded.
The organization is currently organizing efforts and donations to its Children’s Emergency Fund will support outreach.

4) International Medical Corps

To donate or learn about other ways you can contribute to its medical response, visit
Also, text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.


The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund was launched at to garner funds that will be given to a variety of relief organizations helping victims of the earthquake. It has already raised over $100,000, particularly from concerned Twitter users around the world.

6) Salvation Army

Salvation Army personnel are organizing efforts in Tokyo and will soon send a team to help the severely damaged city of Sendai, Japan.
To contribute to earthquake relief, text ‘JAPAN’ or ‘QUAKE’ to 80888 to make a $10 donation or visit designate gift for “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami”
By phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY – designate gift for “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami”

Or by mail: send your check marked “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami” to The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Relief Fund, PO Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728.

At this time, The Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations from the general public disaster relief operations in Japan as it is extremely difficult and expensive to ship in-kind donations overseas from the United States to Japan. The best way for U.S. donors to help Japanese disaster survivors is to make a cash donation.

7) Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan.
To learn more about the organization’s efforts or make a donation, visit

8 Operation USA

Along with an appeal for monetary donations, Operation USA has also announced efforts to collect bulk corporate donations of health care supplies. If you are interested in donating bulk medical items, visit

9) PayPal

Judy Chang, head of PayPal’s nonprofit group, announced that transactional fees incurred by money transfers to US 501(c)(3) organizations (or charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency) between March 11 and April 10 will aid relief efforts in Japan.

10) AmeriCares, ShelterBox and MercyCorps

Other relief organizations are also sending representatives to disaster sites, including AmeriCares and Shelterbox. MercyCorps is gathering donations for its overseas partner, Peace Winds Japan, which currently has personnel on the ground distributing emergency relief in Japan.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Wild Friends After Marriage

In Drama, Marriage, Mental Health on January 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Dear Yenta,

My husband’s best friend’s wife causes a lot of problems. We have a child, and they do not. They, in turn, do not understand what life is like with a child. They expect us to be able to drop everything and go out drinking, partying, etc. at the drop of a hat. Not only do we not want to do this, but we can’t. Recently, they didn’t show up at my husband’s birthday party. He shrugged it off, even though I knew he was very hurt by it.

A week later, she sent me numerous messages about how I took her husband’s best friend away, and they didn’t even know who my husband was anymore. This caused major issues. It has now been a month, and we just saw them this past weekend. Today was her husband’s surprise birthday party, and we did not attend. I have been under the weather, and my husband just didn’t want to go. She immediately attacked him via text message, claiming that I was not ill and telling him that he needed to be there. After he told her I was indeed ill, she proceeded to tell him that she understood that he needed to take care of his son, but he needed to also be there for his friend.

I want to protect my husband and go off on this woman. I have plenty of things to say, and I am at the point where I would really like to scream them at her. My husband is hurt. His friend never says anything to him, but his wife has plenty to say, only when she wants to start trouble.



Not a friend for the wife and kids. Sorry, Lindsay.


Dear Allie,

The key to this question is in the first sentence, “My husband’s best friend.”  While this situation affects you, hurts you, irritates you, riles you, cranks on your nerves, it is ultimately your husband’s business.

Where are the men in this?  Aren’t there key voices missing from the scenario?  This guy’s wife is a pill, and that is a shame, but you certainly a) don’t have to entertain her antics and b) are only involved by extension.  This woman’s fears of your husband’s evolution and change, and her lack of boundaries altogether, are really her problem, not yours.

I would encourage your husband to face his friend and man up on both of your behalf.  All the angry text messages and sideswiping might just be a vile reaction to poor communication.  If this was your husband’s best friend before he found you, it is his job to smooth the transition from wild boozehound to solid husband and father, not yours.

And it is your job to protect yourself and your family.  Tell your husband how much this is upsetting you.  I think he needs to speak to his friend one on one, spend some quality time showing who he has become and how much he still cares.  That is, if he still does.

Sometimes people grow apart as they make smart and mature choices.  A friend from the old “bar days” may not translate, at least not immediately, into adulthood.  With time relationships change, and even through giant life shifts, the relationships that count evolve.

In ten years this couple may be a non-entity, or friends in a different capacity.  Sometimes when alcohol is involved in a friendship, it takes time and trust to find a new way to interact, sans social lubricant.  This requires investment and reconnection, and that job, as I said, falls on your husband’s shoulders, not yours.

Helpful Tips On Sober Friendships:

While your situation is different, take the lead from alcoholics who remake their lives, liquor free.

-Ask your friends to meet you in a place that doesn’t serve alcohol, a movie, a coffeehouse, a hike, a show.  Redefine the relationship with new physical perameters.

-Assess your friendship.  Was it contingent upon drinking and wild behavior?  The real friends remain, after sobriety.  Figure out the nature of your connection.

-Make new friends, based on your new lifestyle.  These may be the real lasting friendships.

-Be brave enough to let go of old friends who do not support the new, healthier you.

Ak Yenta Anything!  Click Here.

For more Yenta, visit Ask Your Yenta at

Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

When Gay Means Guinea Pig

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on January 7, 2011 at 9:33 am calls Sarah Silverman a "Serious Gay Ally" for boldly declaring she would not marry until "All Americans can legally wed."


When my boyfriend and I first started to date, I heard through the grape vine that there was speculation one of his brothers might be gay. I immediately told the person who told me this to not spread rumors and that it wasn’t true. Please note that I am in no way homophobic! I am extremely liberal and I have walked in numerous gay pride parades in support of loved ones. I want everyone to be happy and I would never judge anyone upon their sexuality.

I met this brother, who is absolutely gorgeous. They have 4 brothers in total. Immediately, we had a lot of respect for each other and spoke to each other with ease. I had asked my boyfriend how on earth could he still be single, and I heard that every girl in their town was trying to hook up with him. It’s his good looks that led everyone to notice when he wasn’t hooking up with the good looking girls who threw themselves at him. Now that he is 24, it does seem a bit odd that he has never dated a girl.

As time went on, I couldn’t help but hear more and more about his sexuality from people from their town.  One night, a friend (even though this was not a FRIENDly move) asked my boyfriend about the sexuality of his brother in front of a group of people. My boyfriend got extremely awkward and didn’t say anything. Since him and I talk about everything under the sun, I thought it was strange he did not bring this up to me afterwards.

Recently, I received a phone call from a friend asking me about the situation. Her sister had told her that her boyfriend (my boyfriend’s brother) had confided in her and told her that the brother wrote them a letter months ago explaining that he was gay, and told them everything.

So at this point, we have been dating for years, and I know the truth. I want to show him that I am here for him no matter what, and I would never judge anyone for their sexuality. I don’t know whether he is embarrassed to tell me, or if he just doesn’t want to admit it to himself just yet. But what I feel most horrible about is that people are talking about it. Should I tell him just how many people have mentioned it to me and claim they know it is true? I have told everyone that has asked me that I have no idea and that it is none of their business to begin with. My boyfriend and I are very serious, and when I think of his family I think of them as my own.

Yours truly,

Trying To Do The Right Thing


The first time I read this and answered this, I thought all along you were talking about the brother, not your boyfriend.  So, disclaimer, the paragraphs that follow this are a sassy response to that assumption.  See end for answer to actual question.

Original still-relevant answer to incorrect reading of question:

A big red flag in life is when someone openly declares “I am not….”  Usually, the need to declare what you aren’t, alludes a bit to what you are.  Ie, if you are so adamantly “liberal” and so die hard “not homophobic” then you would probably not be writing so much to prove it.

It sounds to me like this whole deal with your man’s brother batting for the home team is more about you, than about his homosexuality.  There is no evidence in this story that he is suffering, or that he needs you as an ally.  In fact, there is no imperative for a healthy sexy gay man to come out to the whole wide world.  There is no debutante ball for the homosexual emerging.

It sounds, however, like you really want to host a debutante ball for your boyfriend’s brother’s coming out.  What if he doesn’t want a ball, but wants a small dinner?  Ie, what if this guy is perfectly content being gay, living gay, and not speaking up and out about it?  You sound like you feel a need to communicate your acceptance, desperately.

How to be truly accepting?  Maybe stop heeding the talk and gossip about this guy and his private life.  People talking about him is not his problem, nor should it be yours.  It isn’t as if he killed a bunny, he lives an identity.  That’s it.  People’s fascination or repulsion is generally their own problem.

I would say stay out of it, work on your own relationship to homosexuality, and let this guy live a life in peace.  Be his friend, fine, but not in order to save his homosexual soul.

There are a million ways to exercise this need you have to be an ally to the homosexual community.  Try joining, “Where straight friends stand up for their gay allies,” or join a Facebook group for allies to make your support publicly known.  Posting these groups on your profile is a great way of showing allegiance.  These are ways of also making yourself visible as a safe space should this guy ever decide he needs you.

Below is a list from “The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” of 10 ways to be a straight ally, without needing, necessarily, to use gay friends as guinea pigs.

10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend

1. Be a listener.

2. Be open-minded.

3. Be willing to talk.

4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.

5. Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.

6. Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.

7. Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.

8. Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.

9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.

10. If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact us at

Also check out “What Would A Queer Ally Do,” or “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, for other resources.

You might, in trying to do “the right thing” be getting too mentally involved.  In lieu of your boyfriend, maybe just ask him about it.  Your fear of the subject isn’t helping.  You don’t need to say, “hey, everyone knows your brother likes men, they are all gossiping!”  Why not just gently mention the truth?  Or, another option…don’t mention it and use the resources I posted to begin to show you are an advocate for the gay community.

Visible advocacy makes it more likely that your boyfriend might come to you.  Either way, be brave, try not to skirt the truth because in cases like this one, it throws everything out of proportion.  Also, try not to presume your boyfriend’s silence is a matter of shame and suffering or that his family needs your help.  This assumption doesn’t bode well for how you view homosexuality.  It is also possible that your boyfriend just doesn’t care if his brother likes girls, boys or smurfs.

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Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

My Coworker is “A Pig”

In Career, Drama, Mental Health on December 21, 2010 at 10:54 am


Loud, large and boisterous: Mimi Bobeck of "The Drew Carey Show"


Dear Yenta,

I work in an office with about 10-15 other people. The problem is this particular woman. She’s a 55 year-old reject, who gets off on not doing her job correctly, cussing people out after she gets off the phone with them and stealing. All of this upsets us, but the real thing that is the worst, is the fact that she’s such a pig. I do not say pig loosely. For example, her first day of work, it was a girl’s birthday and she brought a bunch of cupcakes in. Well, she took one to eat and then she took two and hid them under her desk to take home with her. Another coworker thought it would be funny to hide them from her. This lady went around to every person in the office asking, “Where are my f-g cupcakes?”

I had a party for my wedding at the office, we ordered pizza and she ate 5 large pieces. Whenever we have any sort of food or candy here, she immediately stuffs her face and half of the people here don’t even get a taste. If there’s something in the kitchen, for everyone, she will take the entire plate to her desk and leave it there until it’s gone. She only works on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, so on Tuesday & Thursdays we will bring in goodies to share. Well, apparently she started coming in on Tuesday and Thursday specifically to steal our candy. We had an entire bag of snickers bars and we look this morning and they’re ALL gone. We have a service where we provide candy and snacks to clients who use our offices. She constantly steals all those snacks blatantly.

How can we stop this? She makes it unbearable!

-KK, Baltimore

You say traif, I say troubled. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear KK,

In the paradigm of meditation and religiosity, it is asked of the individual to look at every feeling, every emotion, and every reaction as stemming from within their own troubles.  Not only that, but taking it to the next level, it is up to the individual to see those around them, and their irritations with the world, as mirrors of their own irritations and impatience with themselves.

This being said, perhaps you see yourself as “A reject who doesn’t do their job correctly, a pig.”  These are rough and strong words, fully judgmental, and they act as a distancing device between you and your co-worker.  It sounds to me like she is not “a pig” but a woman with food issues.  This is an opportunity for compassion, for patience, and for extending your heart to another.  For help with this, try DharmaSeed.  You can download hundreds of live talks to your ipod that will help make you a better person.  It is not her who makes your workday unbearable, as you said, but it is your reaction to her that makes your day so awful.  That reaction, unlike her, is something you can control and change.


You have a tall order ahead of you.  If I were your boss I would take you aside and ask that you cultivate a more open relationship with your community.   A banding together against this woman for her ways reminds me of the rough edge of a middle school playground.  Your first task is to look at yourself.  Why you are so judgmental, and why you don’t find a place for this woman in your heart?  What is a “reject” but the person we are afraid of accepting?  What about her mirrors your own fears, dilemmas or troubles?

And second, why not seek to understand, or at the very least, remedy the situation rather than balking and repelling.  Be honest, “I know you love candy, so we brought you extras.”  If she is ashamed of the breadth of her desire for food, showing her that you accept it without shaming her might prevent her from feeling the need to hoard and hide.  Bring her extra cupcakes.  Don’t scorn, pander.

This woman might need help.  (See Overeaters Anonymous,  She may, in fact, feel like “a reject,” explaining why you see her as one.  Even troubled women who hoard food and seem like losers in an office setting are human and in need of a little love.  Find her story, take her to lunch, and humanize the person you have marked as the enemy.  You will be surprised, I promise, by what you find.

Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

He Almost Loves Me

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on November 6, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Three's Company. But two is ideal. (for some...) Whatever floats your boat.

Dear Yenta,

I started seeing a really amazing guy about a month ago. We have a lot in common, to the point where we clicked instantly in almost every way and hung out constantly even before we were dating. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have him. We went together really well, I thought.

The thing is, he broke up with his girlfriend about two months ago, maybe a bit more; not long at all. It was because, for one thing, he found out that she was planning to cheat on him; and for another, they were headed to different colleges in different places in the fall. They’ve remained friends, albeit not talking much, and recently she called him to apologize for planning to cheat on him and to explain herself in some way. This led to him admitting to me that he still had strong feelings for her, that he didn’t think he was ready for a relationship with someone else yet, and that he was sorry for getting into something with me so soon. He really, really likes me, he says, but just…isn’t ready. Okay. I suppose I understand. So we called it off.

However, he and I have remained friends, and there is an extreme undercurrent of…I don’t know how to explain it. It’s more than just sexual tension between us now. More like it seems as though we both wish we were still together.

I understand that he needs space, and I want him to work this out within himself, especially if it means that he and I could maybe have another chance later in the game. But what if it just seems to me like he made a mistake? Is there anything I can do? That was lengthy, I’m sorry. But I’m miserable about this break-up and I guess I don’t know where to turn.


Is He Mine?

Dear IHM,

Thank you for turning to me.

Unless you were totally and completely meant to be, I don’t really understand why you want to give this dude another chance. A) His heart is tangled with someone else. B) With that entanglement, he is dragging you with him through his mud. C) If he enters half-way now, what does that mean about him later, when someone else comes along and he gives you one half and her the other?

A wise woman friend once told me that everything should be judged by the first month of a relationship. She said if it is easy, then it is right, but that it should never start hard. Ie, a relationship that starts hard/complex, ends as such. I will amend her words with a “never say never.” Point? This man might be your future husband, (or your future bad husband), who knows. But it is up to you to set the standard as to whether he is worthy of your heart.

I don’t know very many women who like to be someone else’s emotional leftover. It is not crazy to expect that your significant other puts you first, top of their list, above other loves. In fact, it should be expected that your partner does not tie their heart to another love tree.  You, in a monogamous American construct, are meant to be the one and only. But if you like love triangles, jump!  (Click here for more on safely dating multiple people at once.)

A word on sexual tension: it is common. Yes. It is a common and normal thing to have sexual tension with close male friends, close female friends, close any other type of friends. But what I am weary of in your case is giving that fat nugget of tension too much clout.

It sounds, from all the way here in Jerusalem, like you are being dragged through someone else’s drama as a crutch. Ie. You, the woman who he doesn’t have to invest in nor discard, are there to squeeze his hand when he feels blue. In the meantime, everything you mention is about him, his space, his healing. What about you? Who is loving on you? Are you his healer, his lover, or his girlfriend? Sounds like none of the above.

If he takes the plunge and shows a valiant display of chivalrous affection, if he takes risks, puts one foot in front of the other, gives you solid evidence that you are his queen, not his mistress in the wings, then I would say, go for it. But until then, seek not sexual tension, but sexual gratification elsewhere.

Really want him? Try “Just Friends to Doting Lover: How to Turn That Secret Crush Into a Real Relationship.”

Seriously, though, you deserve so much better. Find yourself a proper prince.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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Will My Insecurities Drive Him Away?

In Dating, Marriage, Mental Health on September 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Hi Yenta,

I am in my early 30s and I have recently begun seeing a really awesome person, and it’s all very unexpected and wonderful. I’m terrified! I’ve never been the marrying type, but I like this person enough that I want them in my life for a while, or however long we’re both happy together — and I know they feel the same about me — but I really don’t want to fuck it up with my insecurity and occasional social awkwardness.

I’ve have two previous serious long-term relationships, and my last one ended about a year and a half ago. I’ve been doing some kind of personal inventory on myself ever since. I dated, I spent a lot of time alone, I cultivated close friends and some new interests, worked at enjoying my job, and generally like myself more these days than I have in a long time and am mostly in a good headspace. I moved to a somewhat remote area recently and in my casing for new and interesting friends somehow managed to cosmically happen upon someone incredible. He makes me laugh, he’s straightforward and communicative, he seems genuine, people who know him really like him, he’s fucking cute and um, etc.

Needless to say, I’m pretty head over heels for him, which is wonderful and totally scary. I have some pretty serious trust issues, and  while I recognise that I will never be perfect (and don’t want to be!) I’m not sure that I can be a good partner, and this makes me reluctant to enter in a new (and likely serious) relationship if I can’t ‘act like an adult’, whatever that means. I’m super nervous when I’m introducing him to people in my life, and I’m afraid to meet his friends and coworkers because I’m worried that I won’t measure up somehow. (His work is more ‘important’ than mine! He makes more money than I do! He certainly doesn’t make me feel this way, but I feel really inadequate next to him sometimes.) It’s not that I still want to play the field — dating and hooking up occasionally was great and all, but my connection with this person is really different — it’s that I don’t know that I’m okay with myself enough to not burden him with my likely eventual nuttiness, and am so over the moon that I feel like a little kid sometimes. But boy, do I want to try. How can I get over this? How can I learn to accept myself enough and not push away someone that is really offering themselves to me in a positive way?

-Crazy Insecure

Out with the old, in with the new YOU! Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear CI,

Chances are you are perfectly lovable as you are.  But, just like faith in G-d, we need to cultivate faith in ourselves with steady devotion. This is no easy task. No Ma’am.  This can be a struggle, a fall in the mud and smear your face filthy process.  But every step counts towards immeasurable results.

Lucky for you there are about 72 hours left for inventory before the upcoming year is sealed.  You can hate yourself for not loving yourself, or, within this new relationship you can privately take steps towards self-adoration.  There is a chance that he makes you feel inadequate, and there is the other side of blooming blossoming new love: your inadequacies refuse to hide any longer.

So, use these 72 hours to look at what you fear.  Trust issues, schmust issues.  If he is the one, he is the one. But your work, that inner searching that often comes after a breakup, it also helps to engage such devices during, before, after, and between relationships.  During, however, is clutch.

Maybe you need things to slow down, maybe you need to meet those friends of his at a later date.  Maybe you wish you made more money or that your job were more “important,” whatever that means.  When we fall truly in love we are moving towards a wholer more exquisite version of ourselves.  If you feel inadequate and he isn’t saying you are, then guess who is rapping at your door with Negative Nancy?  You.

There is no shame in therapy for the sake of love.  Maybe you need some extra help reigning in your dark side.  Or, maybe you need to start being your own mirror, somehow curbing the conversations in your head, “I feel inadequate.”  “I shouldn’t feel inadequate.”  “I am inadequate for feeling inadequate.”  And so on.

Love, marriage, trust, commitment:  these things are a choice.  If you choose, then stop indulging the parts of you that are resisting.  Nudge them with love, with gentleness, with friends and with life changes towards the image of the woman you believe deserves this amazing love you are experiencing.  You might be shocked when you realize you are the perfect worthy other half, and this might not happen until you begin to fall as hard in love with yourself as he has.

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Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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When DENIAL Strikes

In Breakups/Divorce, Drama, Mental Health on September 5, 2010 at 7:10 am

Caution: Blindness is not always involuntary. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Hey Bubby,

So a close female friend of mine told me a couple of months
ago that a friend of hers had just moved here and suggested we hang
out. I met her friend for drinks and we ended up making out at the end
of the night. I told my friend about it a couple of days later –
expecting her response to be anywhere from ambivalent to supportive –
but instead she responded, “I will tell her not to date you.”

Apparently, she thinks I was an asshole to one or two of my
ex-girlfriends. (I really didn’t do anything that terrible to them.)
I’ve seen her friend a couple of times since and I’m not crazy about
her or anything, but my friend’s threat has really gotten under my
skin. Why would she be friends with me if she thinks like that? I
don’t want my friendship with her to end, but I don’t think I can be
friends with someone who feels like that about me. I don’t know what
to say to her and she’s ignored me when I’ve tried to continue the
conversation. Basically, it seems like she’s done talking about it.
Also, she isn’t jealous like she wants to date me or anything.
That’s not the issue.

-Zadie In Waiting

Dear ZIW,

Might you be in denial? According to, “Denial is the refusal to acknowledge the existence or severity of unpleasant external realities or internal thoughts and feelings.” It seems to me that when a woman tries to protect her friends against the perils of dating a man, it is never in vain or without prompt. What happened with these exes? Did you unwittingly behave in a way unbecoming of yourself?

I don’t think any of this is so weird. You can love your guy friends as buddies, but not want them to go near the hearts of your female friends if you know they can be hurtful. Romantic involvement is not what your relationship with this friend entails, so the judgment of that side of you is null and void to your friendship. If she were IN love with you and thought you were a jerk when it came to dating, then you might want to question the integrity of your interactions.

It sounds like she cares about you, but doesn’t love the idea of you hurting another friend. It also sounds like she is controlling the conversation. But if you are in denial, then that is a pretty typical response. Some people hate going in emotional circles. When they know something and they find their partner in conversation faking like that shit doesn’t exist, well, continuing in that manner can be a sincere waste of time. Try reading The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life by Eviatar Zerubavel to better understand this phenomenon.

Her girlfriends are going to trump you, because life sucks like that sometimes. So, do some personal gravedigging and yank up those skeletons. Re-visit the endings to those relationships and see if maybe you forgot to see something in the mirror of your ways. I wouldn’t abandon this friendship, I would abandon the self-avoidance.

According to we can confront denial by:

* Asking ourselves honestly why we are in denial.
* Asking ourselves what are the benefits to be gained by our denial.
* Recognizing the negative consequences that result from our denial behavior.
* Allowing ourselves to express negative or embarrassing emotions as we confront our problems (e.g., crying, feeling lost, feeling confused or feeling scared).
* Allowing ourselves to admit to being out of control.
* Trusting others to help us with our problem.
* Admitting our vulnerability and our need for assistance.
* Risking the loss of acceptance or approval by those who may be unable to handle our open, honest admission of our problem.
* Recognizing that denial is a natural stage in the loss/grief response.
* Believing that out of failure comes success; accepting the failure as a chance for personal growth.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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How To Seduce A Bisexual

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on August 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Dear Yenta,

I recently went out with a charming and cute young lady. However, up
until last week, I was pretty sure she was exclusively into other
women (from common acquaintances and context). But we hit it off
really well, and we have great chemistry when we dance. I’m sure she
could be bisexual in this day and age, but I don’t want to offend her
by trying to make out with her if she is really only into girls. I
also have no desire to ask her, “Are you gay?” Any suggestions?

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Chick chock? No. Slow and steady wins the race.

Dear Barking Up the Wrong Tree,

When you like a straight woman, how do you know she is into you? Would you just walk up to her and start sucking face to express your lust? My guess is, no. Bi and gay women aren’t politically correct specimens, waiting to be offended, they are just women.

List the signs in your mind that indicate a green light with a straight woman and then apply them to your relationship with this new woman. There isn’t a huge difference when a woman is or isn’t into you, if she is also into women. The same rules apply, your mind just gets more wrapped up in the possibility of rejection when all genders are competing.

Give this one time, test the waters, do what you do, gently, nothing too intense, to show her you are looking for more than friendship. Go slow and watch, like you might with any woman who you are truly interested in. If she takes the bait, then keep moving in the romantic direction.

Gay and bi and straight are just labels used for identity markers, politics and convenience. She might be gay, she might be bi, she might be into you, and she might not be. Treat her like a woman who you find appealing, and just see if those feelings are reciprocated. Also, “this day and age” is perpetual, you never know, never knew if a woman you were with initially wanted a woman more than she wanted you. Again, you never know. Just jump.

Ask Yenta Anything!

E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta