Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category


In Mental Health on August 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Dear Yenta,

I am not happy. I have an amazing son, good job, a beautiful home to live in, but every time I try to smile, tears fill my eyes. I try to blame this feeling on my divorce, my paranoia that my co-workers hate me, or the fact that I have given up on pretty much every dream that I have ever had because I am so tired all the time, but pushing the blame on things does nothing but remind me how pathetic my life has really become. I’m lost in a life that keeps spinning and piling up on top of me, and I don’t know which way is out. What do I do?

– Out

Dear Out,

Step one: take a deep breath. When life starts to strangle you, teeny tiny baby steps are the only way to dig out of the hole. I would say start by taking inventory. Pause after your darling son is asleep and take notes on a number of things. A) Who do you have in your life that you CAN trust? That you CAN lean on? Seeing who these people are on paper is a helpful reminder that you aren’t alone. B) What have you done right, and well? This can be things that seem small but are really huge, like sustaining the life of a healthy child. This is a giant accomplishment. Note the little things, he is clothed, he is fed, he is not ignored. You would be surprised by how important these things are.

An inventory is really a way of gently shifting a mindset. If you think you are falling in a hole, it will be easier to lose your grip. But if you believe you are grasping and climbing out, this will begin to happen. It sounds like you have had a real run for your money in the past few years. Another inventory you can take is on how to begin to be gentle and loving with your exhausted self. Keep tea stocked. Take baths, invest in bath salts. Find a massage school near you and get a cheap treatment while a friend babysits, maybe offer to buy them a massage in return. Money doesn’t buy relaxation, investment does. Treat yourself with care in those tiny in-between moments when motherhood and work are not taking the reigns.

Do you have health care from your job? Can you find a therapist to support you, while you are supporting your family? You would be amazed how nice 50 minutes about you a week can feel. Also, stop, notice, breathe and write. Write it all down. Get creative, get crazy, work out all that divorce angst bottled up inside what looks like a perfect exterior life. Purge the feelings so you can be present, and see how wonderful you and the life you have created are.

And finally, re-visit your dreams. You are not dead, honey, just raising a child alone. As shut as all the doors seem, you need to be patient and remember that time brings change. Think of Langston Hughes and “A Dream Deferred.” List those aspirations that you think you completely lost, and remember that in time your son will go to school and become more independent and your dreams, on layaway, will explode again. Also, remember how you once dreamed of having children, and now you do! Enjoy that precious child.

Your 28-Year-Old Yenta

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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Rectal Surprise

In Dating, Mental Health, Sex on June 14, 2010 at 9:06 pm

This intense pleasure zone ironically threatens the perceived manhood of some of the manliest of men. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

My boyfriend likes surprises. I bought him a t-shirt that he had commented about for his birthday, and after he opened it and told me how much he loved it, he made a comment about his lack of surprise at the gift. Since there were no more holidays coming up, I decided to surprise him in the bedroom, hoping to satisfy his need for that wow feeling.

I lotion-ed him up, lathered him down, and then shoved a small vibrator in his ass, to his surprise. Needless to say, he did not like my surprise. It has been three weeks since my attempt at surprise and even though I have apologized several hundred times, he won’t strip down below shorts. I have a non-existent sex life now, and even worse, every time I start to get a little frisky in the bedroom, he turns bright red and tells me that he isn’t in the mood. How do I get my lover back?


Dear A-Hole,

I started by asking two men what they think.

They answered:

“Why needless to say he wouldn’t like it?  Some men really like surprises, anal surprises and toy surprises to be specific.”

“Stick a vibrator in your own ass, you’ll get your lover right back.”

“Needless to say, the vibrator is for you, not him.  Lather up, lotion down and stick it in your own ass.”

Sticking something in a man’s ass without warning may very well provoke a retreat into his shell.  There are all kinds of men.  There are men who like being penetrated, men who were raised to be the penetrator and ride a bull.  There are men who like things in the rear, and men who fear the pleasure they find in that area.

Without talking to him, you never know the cause of his repulsion.  Chances are, though, that he might not even be able to talk about it.  My guess is that there is complex shame around what occurred between you, so tread lightly.

Apologies will do nothing.  You need to show your understanding through action, make him feel safe, let him take the reigns.  Give your boyfriend back a sense of power.  Let him make some decisions.  Show him, through your behavior, that you will not push his limits unless asked.  This is partially about a loss of trust.

He may have liked it and have a fear that enjoying pleasure in the ass (which makes sense because there are some amazing nerve endings in there for men) implies he is somehow gay.  This is common male homophobic confusion.

Or, your boyfriend may have a history of sexual abuse and you may have just triggered memories of his body being violated and/or penetrated.  We think male rape victims don’t exist, but they do, they abound, and we women, so often used to being on that side of the fence, need to be sensitive to that possibility in our lovers.  For information on myths and facts of male rape, click here or visit  Also, try reading this City Paper article.

Whether a survivor of abuse or not, to treat him like one might help win his trust back.  Try reading these tips, “Recovering From Rape: Healing Your Sexuality” as barebone guidelines for rebuilding intimacy after trauma.

He could have power issues, gender role issues, abuse issues, butt issues, trust issues, an allergy to plastic.  Whatever it is, if you like him, you need to earn his trust back.  If you are gung-ho on the anal, he may need some proof that this sexual practice isn’t so crazy.  Some men grew up in the sexual boondocks.  Try helping him, if that feels right.  Click here for assistance.

Ask Yenta!  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

Acupuncture Addict

In Health and Body, Mental Health on June 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

Dear Yenta,

I’ve been going to acupuncture regularly for about 4 months as a way to improve my general health and boost my immune system. Really though, I got hooked thanks to the hazy, fuzzy kinda high feeling I got right after a treatment. What can I say? It’s a natural high!

The problem is that I’m not really getting high anymore- the buzz has worn off and my body is getting use to the feeling. Since I’m not going for any specific ailment, I can’t decide if that means I should stick with it or move onto the next “natural high” experience (bikram yoga, perhaps?). Have you ever experienced this kind of thing? What do you say?

– Poked and Prodded in New York

Acuptuncture is meant to bring out the you-est part of you. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,


I have experienced this kind of thing, and about ten to one-hundred varieties of this kind of thing. For some people it is normal to get all stoney-like after being treated. Acupuncture, when done well, should align you towards a more whole and balanced version of yourself.  For some, this alignment makes them feel euphoric.

They say that after a treatment you are supposed to feel into that natural high and remember it, because that state is your life goal or an experience of your purest and best self.  One girl I met at a co-op in Boulder would be so happy post-treatment.  It was really important to her not to drink or eat sugar or do anything that would alter that state for at least a day after her treatment, because she wanted to get acquainted with that higher self feeling.

If you are feeling less high but more inclined to continue seeking that high in ways like yoga, etc., I would say the acupuncture is working well.  You don’t want paid treatments to be the only way you achieve that sense of self, you want to be reaching for ways to integrate that high into your daily life.

There is no reason to walk away from treatment, unless financially it is too much.  Because if you can continue to afford it you will only continue to balance and move the body. One acupuncturist told me that he and his friends went daily in China for treatments. Everyone benefits from realignment. Period.

So now that the high has worn off, check in on your lifestyle. Chances are it has changed and maybe you are “higher” all the time, therefore not noticing the difference when stuck with needles. Try to let go of that old reaction that you enjoyed and just be with what comes after each treatment. The “non-high” is as important as the “high” and neither is better or worse, only according to what your mind has told you.

If, however, the treatments leave you feeling low, reassess from scratch. Sometimes too much alignment is too much to handle.  Other ways to balance your system include changing eating habits, changing drinking habits, learning to meditate, exercising more and/or finding a yoga studio nearby.  It is way easier said than done, so also seek a community to support your healthy new existence.  Advance according to your intuition, and according less to pleasure and more to whether you are suffering.

For more information on acupuncture, read:

The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine by Tim Kaptchuk

Between Heaven And Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Helen Beinfield and Efrem Korngold


Ask Yenta!  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

Writer’s Block Psychosis

In Career, Mental Health on June 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Careful with your image. Sometimes its a deflection from your reality. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

I have lost the ability write. An initial, hiccupy writer’s block that originated with a piece of assessment I disliked has grown into an all-encompassing loss of words. I get my housemate to dictate birthday cards to relatives because I cannot be sure I’ll say the right thing, and have become lax in replying to emails because the construction of even a simple response is onerous. The only thing I can write is lists, on post-it notes, of all the essays I have to complete. I feel paralyzed, and rather ashamed. It’s only words, after all: how difficult can it be to arrange them into coherent sentences?

This issue is all the more painful because it isn’t new, but rather is something that I thought I’d overcome. I’ve had a rather chequered university career: my transcript alternates between blocks of High Distinctions and Failure: Non-Completions. I was expelled from university for a period of a eighteen months for failure to maintain sufficient academic progress, primarily because I’d failed to hand in essays. This year, I started off very well, handing in essays on time and getting brilliant marks. I’d thought I was fixed. However, here I am again, faced with the voiceless fear when faced with a blank page.


P.S. This email took me two hours to write, and I don’t like it very much.

Dear Mute,

What you call writer’s block, I call a need for a lasso.  Simple.  Writer’s block has a million causes.  Your particular brand seems to stem from inner voices out of control.  Yes.  You have some internal critic that is on fire and preventing you from expressing yourself.

This is when every move, every thought, every utterance is stuffed back inside out of fear or shame.  If you think you will f up, a piece of you might be chanting, “you will f up.  You will f up.”  That voice’s job is to paralyze your creative expression.

Why the nasty inner mantra?  Only you know.  Be honest.  Stop calling this “writer’s block” and look at it as what it really is, an indulgence of the negative and cruel voices inside of you.  Help yourself.  Get those voices under control and start really living your creative life.

My personal favorite: meditation.  Why?  Because it is gentle, it is self-taught, and in doing it you find a community, depending on how you tackle stillness.  All it does is make you aware of the constant inner monologue in your head, and slowly, through focusing on the breath, teaches you to live without it.  Shambhala centers nationwide offer free meditation instructors who can help guide you through your mind until it is ready to quiet down.

Other things that help?  Stopping the voices before they start with excessive positive affirmations.  “I am smart.  I can write.  I write. Write. Write.  Written.” Try Tara Brach, Ph.D.’s Radical Acceptance for help.  Other ideas: see a cognitive behavioral therapist and explain you need to undo the stifling voices that cut off your writer’s blood flow.  Do whatever you need to uninvite the negative from your daily mental repertoire.

There are a million other ways to cultivate the positive.  Break your normal routine, touch nature whenever possible, exercise more, poison your body less, etc. etc.  You, however, sound like you have some more specific hard work ahead of you, acquainting yourself with your mind so you can do some solid summer cleansing of unneeded mental energy.

To write is a simple act of expression.  We complicate it with pressures and cruelties all our own.  If you don’t trust your voice, or don’t believe in that which you want to express, it is nearly impossible to let it loose.  Mean voices are an addiction.  Get clean.  Stop leaning on the negative and write your manifesta!

Ask Yenta!  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

Lesbianism Ain’t Always Easy

In Breakups/Divorce, Dating, Drama, Mental Health on May 27, 2010 at 3:29 pm

It wasn't easy for Callie Torres to embrace this moment on Grey's.

Dear Yenta,

I’ve been in a relationship with someone who has been reckless with my heart.  I am in my first lesbian relationship. We began dating shortly after she was broken up with by her ex-gf.

After a few weeks of dating me, she dumped me for her ex then a week later asked me to be her gf again. I was really hurt but still had strong feelings and we got back together.  Should I stick it out knowing that she could possibly get back with the ex again?


Woman Burn

Dear WB,

What I read when you say someone has been reckless with your heart, is that you opened your heart to the reckless.  I spent many a year as a Women’s Studies major, and then many years to follow attempting to ditch the victim/oppressor mentality.  We choose our lives, and shape them accordingly.  This woman is abusing you because she can, because you said she could.

In this case, there are a number of things you can learn from this new relationship so as to guard your heart from suffering in the future.  For one, be aware of your emerging self.  If you are newly out, or newly consummating your gayness, this might leave you vulnerable to wicked edges.  If the women you are dating in this first phase aren’t solid, caring and together, you might be more susceptible to recklessness.

It is not easy, those first weeks, months or years of an emerging identity in a society that still debates the legitimacy of lesbianism to begin with.  There are a long list of issues that come to the surface ranging from homophobia to questions of scripts and behavioral norms.  Do you have a community supporting you?  Are you using this woman as your support network?  That could be disastrous, and also explain why you would put up with this type of cruel flip-flopping behavior.

One book that comes highly recommended is How To Be A Happy Lesbian: A Coming Out Guide by Tracey Stevens and  Katherine Wunder.  Look for GLBT events in your community, or find out if there are peer groups, support groups, or basic fun events where your community can expand beyond this mean woman.  Also, try calling the GLBT National Support Hotline at  1-888-843-4564 instead of funneling yourself into this woman and her split heart.  They also offer Online Peer-Support Chat.

Another thing to beware of with both women, men and in-between, is that anyone who is freshly out of another relationship may not be totally present for you.  No matter how much this woman may like you, and no matter how much you feel for her, her heart is still tied up with the past.  This means she can’t be the girlfriend you deserve because she is still busy being a girlfriend, or navigating the oddities of being an ex-girlfriend to her ex.

It’s as if this woman gave you an awesome new toy(her), and then realized suddenly that she wanted it back.  When we receive people into our hearts and bodies we want to be sure that they are as present, as unattached and as loving as we are.  This recklessness that you refer to is her problem, but more so, it is your problem that you engaged in a relationship with the reckless.

Thus, YOU have been reckless with your heart.  Be gentle and patient in seeking women to love.  The beginning of a lesbian dating life is not always easy, but the signs of a maladjusted lover run clear across the board.  Steer clear of women in love with other women.  You will find another person to love, one that is as loving as you are.  In the meantime, look for some solid queer friends to support you in your identity and weave your way out of this destructive relationship.  You deserve a love all your own.

Ask Yenta!  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

Pursued by a Cheater

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on May 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Dear Yenta,

I am a college student living in the dorms. Last week, I met one of my friend’s roommates at a campus celebration. A bunch of us were hanging out and this guy (I’ll call him B.) was talking to me a bit, etc. After the party, he added me on Facebook and started talking to me on Facebook chat right away, commenting on what I had been wearing and asking me a bunch of questions. (This guy, by the way, is SUPER attractive.)

Over the past week, we have talked a lot online and hung out once in person (but we were with his roommates as well), but he always tells me that I should come visit and is pretty blatant about hitting on me. Last night I was hanging out with some of his roommates and someone spilled that B. is moving out of their apartment and in with his girlfriend. (Apparently they had broken up and recently got back together.) WHOA–SHOCK.

He has never mentioned having a girlfriend to me. By chance, right after I found out, he messaged me on Facebook chat, and when he found out that I had been with his roommates, he asked why I didn’t come say hi. He doesn’t know that I know about his girlfriend and his move-out plans, so I carried on a short, polite, relatively banal conversation, even though I wanted to ask him point-blank about the girlfriend and us. Nothing has happened between us (thank goodness) except some flirting, because I wanted to take it slowly (I am a little bit weary of pretty boys), but I developed a pretty bad crush and the messages he was sending me made it seem like he was interested too. I don’t know if I should ask him about the girlfriend or let our little flirting game go on or cut him out of my life completely. I’m sure I can get over him quickly because I haven’t known him for that long, but I feel really hurt and betrayed and don’t know what to do. Please help!


-Crush Has a Girlfriend

Bacon, Egg and Cheese = Un-Kosher. Seek love elsewhere. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear CHAG,

There is nothing worse than feeling amorous towards a seductive man and then suddenly learning he is taken.  This sucks on so many levels, but the worst level is that you liked him, he jump-started your heart, and then it turns out his integrity is down the tubes.  That is a sad dating moment.

According to Esquire’s article, “Why Men Cheat: One man’s unfiltered, unadulterated explanation. Well, maybe a little adulterated,” by Anonymous, “If you cheat, you must believe this much: that fated love is a lie, and monogamous love a deception. If you cheat, these two sentiments are your guiding light.”

A really intuitive woman knows that a man who cheats is hurting.  There is something achey on his part, involved in hurting those he loves.  A lottta women love pained men, because they get to potentially swoop in and save them. Or, get cheated on or cheated with.

So there are like six hurts here, your hurt at losing out on a crush, your hurt in learning your crush was a douche, your hurt that is really his hurt passed through action, your own hurt that would lead you to a man like this, and so on and so forth.  Even monsters garner our love when they suffer.

Blah.  With all that hurt maybe spend a day at Spa World and stop Facebook chatting with the mofo.  He can hit you up all he wants, but you really need to guard your own and not worry about him.  Maybe he would one day be a friend, but I doubt it.  Cultivating a community of friends is a deliberate and important act, not one built on a foundation of deception, lies, and manipulative behavior.

This guy sounds like the dumps.  The sooner you cut him loose, the sooner you have space in your heart to welcome new, pretty, kind AND truthful suitors into your court.

According to How to Spot a Cheater Within 15 Minutes of Meeting by Paul Dobransky, you fell into the following traps.  Please avoid them in the future.

1) “They are VERY controlling, or VERY easily “controllable” (overagreeable)”

When a man spittles up compliments like a baby and his breast milk, you know you are barking up the wrong tree.  Love matures with time, not incrementally based on your hot outfits.

2) “They use the word “SHOULD” a great deal as in “You should sit down over here,” “You should get a different haircut,” or “You should treat me like a king/queen.” This person is likely to CHEAT.”

Yes, your little friend pulled this one on you repeatedly.

3) “They are “oversensitive.” Try a little sarcasm and see what they do.”

4) “Neediness. (Whether an attention hound, or a passive, shy type) Alongside “oversensitive” is any other similar word: “high maintenance,” “prima donna,””entitled,” or otherwise one with low self esteem, they are more likely to cheat. You will have an intuition about this, a feeling like they are pulling on you too much, leaning in on you. Scan your emotions for this, and also notice whether their body language actually physically is too close to you, leaning toward you all the time, or too much attention placed on you. This person is likely to CHEAT.”

5) “Trouble with the word NO. They either can’t say NO to you or others, or can’t HEAR NO gracefully from you and still be interested in continuing conversation.”

Ah yes, you say bubbye, he says hello.  Ugly.

And the clincher:

6) “Outright abuse or lying.”

Homeslice lied in his pursuit of you.  Period.

Ask Yenta! 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

Letting Go of Ugly Voices

In Breakups/Divorce, Mental Health, Parents on May 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Change the script! "I am $10 Princess." Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Hi Yenta,

I recently separated from my husband of four years, who emotionally abused and financially used me. While I am trying to get my life back on track, I am living in my parents’ house for emotional and financial support. As I move forward, I don’t want to keep reliving all the negative things he did or said to me.

However, my parents repeatedly bring up all the ways in which he was a terrible husband and son-in-law. I understand that they also feel manipulated and betrayed (he used them financially as well), but every time they begin on these tirades, I feel guilty for bringing him into their lives. I’ve expressed this to my parents & asked that they not talk about him for the time being, but they can’t seem to stop themselves. What can I do to make this easier on my parents and myself?

-Homeward Bound

Dear HB,

Ugh, this sounds completely awful. Good for you for wanting to let the voices of the past go.  In the meantime, let’s map a plan for dealing with your present.

The rule about Mom and Dad is that they will always be them.  You cannot fix or change their behavioral patterns, you can only alter your own approach to both engagement and the subsequent emotions.

In this case, it sucks that your parents can’t put a lid on it.  When it comes down to it, you tried to express your need for a change in topic, and they couldn’t seem to respect that need.  That means you need to act outside the box in order to protect yourself, most specifically, your heart.

How to make this easier on yourself and your parents?  At this point you have no other choice than to move on.  Moving on means continuing to do what you have done to let go of this man and asserting your autonomy.  It is hard work, and work that needs to be continued daily.  Like an alcoholic attending regular AA meetings, you need to fully commit to letting go.  In moving on, and in moving out, you will eradicate those tirades from your life, but more importantly, you will give your parents hope and something new to focus on.

I am a weathered respiter.  Ie, I often return home after long arduous travel to reboot before refiring into the world.  There is, however, an important time limit to living at home.  When you are no longer resting, but choking on the confined role of “daughter,” run.

Going home is good until going home destroys you, then going home is bad.  This is a fine line because being in the den of your childhood can be destructive without warning and in ways you didn’t expect.  There is the normal drag of memory and regression, and then there are things like tirades relating to the past.  You get to choose to release yourself from this dull pang.  Only you know your threshold for parental drama.  Find that threshold and when it is crossed, make a change.

Tunnel vision is the number one side-effect of living with parents.  Make an effort to speak to people, go to places, and cultivate practices that expand your vision so that your girlhood is not the full scope of your perspective.

Make a plan and stick to it.  You want to move out?  Figure out what that will take and then do it.  Do what you can, even from your high school bedroom, to affirm your trajectory towards womanhood and autonomy and slowly those voices and tirades will shift.  You have to do the work, though.  You have to move on so they can move on.

Little things that maintain drive:

Write out your goals and tack them to your mirror.

excercise, Yoga, Dance – anything to keep your connection to your body.

Nutrition.  Good food feeds good thoughts.

Meditation. This will help you focus on the present and release the past.

For those who believe: Prayer works wonders.

Anything else to keep you inside of yourself and connected to your intention.

For help, try reading:

Self-Reliance:The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Inspiration for Daily Living Edited by Richard Whelan.

The Little Book of Letting Go:  A Revolutionary 30Day Program to Cleanse Your Mind, Lift Your Spirit and Replenish Your Soul by Hugh Prather.

Ask Yenta!  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

Sexual Surrogate to Treat Premature Ejaculation

In Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on May 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

To Ms. Yenta,

I have a sexual question and it has taken me time to even consider asking this question but here it goes.  I have had a long term sexual problem (Premature Ejaculation) which I have not been able to cure.  I have tried the silly Kegel exercises and they cause me pain and frustration.  I recently have heard about sexual surrogates.  Surrogates being sex therapists who actually engage in sex with the patient in order to help their patients with their problems.  I’m wondering if you know anything about surrogates and if they are a good choice or just new age hookers?

*Thank you*

-from Stephen J

Honey, you'll be removing those goggles and uncrossing those legs soon enough. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your brave honesty!  For you, I learned about sex surrogates.  I am now a HUGE fan of this concept.  For those of you not aware of sexual surrogacy, it is a medical route to sexual assistance.  Ie, you go see a doctor who then helps you with your sexual self in a “triad” with a third person, the sexual surrogate.  This person actually assists you manually in learning how to be more intimate and sexually adept.

Prostitutes far and near often speak of their job as a sex worker as one of a sex therapist.  Depending on the hooker and depending on the John, this is a place for acting things out emotionally via sex, off the grid.  This work, for the happy hooker, can be really transformative.

The difference, however, between a prostitute and a sexual surrogate is the medicalization and legalization of the practice.  One woman touching you and teaching you is usually illegal, whereas the other is sanctioned by a doctor with whom she works in conjunction.  For more on legit sexual surrogates, see IPSA, The International Professional Surrogates Association.

In his pulp novel, Counsel For The Damned, author Neil Montefiore Fleishman writes about how the first five hours of marriage make or break every union.  He has a theory stating that men are either born lovers, or aren’t, and that this shows in those few hours past the threshold.  Sexual surrogacy is a fabulous challenge to the notion that a man can’t learn to be a phenomenal lover.  Think about Footloose. If Kevin Bacon can teach that chump to dance, then anyone can learn to make love like a pro.

Sexual assistance is a practice we have often lost in our sexually repressed society.  We too easily forget how much is tied into a sexual release, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and so on.  More often than not, men are left without education surrounding the complexity of their own sexuality.  (For a granola take on healing male sexuality, click here.)  Free porn and abundant Victoria’s Secret catalogs have nothing to do with teaching people how to connect with other bodies subjectively.  Sex can be transcendent, uniting, complex, incredible, and so on and so forth, and many other cultures recognize this fact and train their young.

The brilliant Zora Neale Hurston wrote about this in Tell My Horse, how young women in one town were schooled by an elder on the art and importance of love making.  Shamanic healers have often been summoned for this work, to manually teach about how to sexually express oneself.  I don’t think there is anything shameful about sexual surrogates. If anything, I think using them is a wise choice.

Once at a classic Naropa party in Boulder, a man told me that the best way to overcome issues with sex is to masturbate in front of a close friend while they watch.  He also told me about doctors and schools where spiritual leaders manually bring people to orgasm to help release the energy, as well as to teach its redirection.  There are retreats all over (like this one), and gurus across the globe (like this guy) who can help teach you about sex from new angles, ie, tantra, kundalini, etc.  YouTube alone has tons of teaching videos on sex and healing.

For you, Stephen, I think sexual surrogacy is a medically sound way to treat your problem because it addresses both the physical and the emotional components of premature ejaculation.  With the “triad” of a doctor and a surrogate, you should, at the very least, learn a lot about your own body, which is great.  At best, you will learn to control your timing and attain new skills to better give and receive pleasure in the bedroom.  Not a bad bargain.

For a better idea of what it’s like, read this great article from  Follow the dude’s cue, and perhaps use the International Professional Surrogates Association to be sure your helper isn’t scamming you for cash.  Good Luck!

Book ideas:

The Illustrated Manual Of Sex Therapy Second Edition by Helen Singer Kaplan

Sacred Sexual Healing: The Shaman Method of Sex Magic by Baba Dez Nichols and Kamala Devi, or these manuals from

Ask Yenta!  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

Do All Women Just Want To Be Ravaged?

In Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on May 5, 2010 at 7:38 pm

There is a devil inside every woman. The question is, how to engage it without traumatizing her.

Help me Yenta!!!

This is a fairly general question but, WHAT DO WOMEN WANT IN BED!!!!!!!!!!!

I was reading about a book online called “Just f*#% her!”  Its basic concept is that women, even the sweet ones, just want to be ravaged, and screwed silly till they’re

Lifeless next to you.

IS IT TRUE?  I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


Dear K,

Lifeless = dead.  So no, chances are women do not want you to kill them.   I am assuming you are referring to this document, “Just F*&#ing F*#$ me, already,” from The Best of Craigslist.

To answer your question I gathered four experienced women who happen to be farmers.  Farmers are in touch with themselves, the earth and as a solid byproduct, their sexuality.  We read the manifesto you are referring to and then discussed it.  Here, for the answer to your questions, are their replies:

Farmer 1: Men think they should know everything.

Farmer 2: Like how to please a woman.

Farmer 1: And they don’t think they should ask because that makes them seem inexperienced.

Farmer 3: And that’s the thing that makes them inexperienced.

Farmer 2: An experienced man knows to ask.

A mechanic told me that women get their cars fixed better than men.  Why?  Because most women walk in and say, “There was a clicking and humming on the left side of the car.”  Most men, however, come in saying something like, “My carborator is broken,” when really it is the exhaust or the brake pads.  The difference: the man wanted to fake like he knew, and ended up with a bad result.

Farmer 1: It’s not even a question, women want all different things.  It is going to change every day, you just have to talk to her.

Farmer 2: Yeah, ask.  Ask her.

Farmer 3: Yeah, that’s the best sex advice ever, just talk.

Farmer 2: You have to be a little bit ballsy, and if you ask, it pays off.

Farmer 1: If you don’t ask then it is either bad, or you don’t ever see that person again because they weren’t satisfied.

Farmer 4: I would say that women are the same way.  We wonder, “I wonder if he likes it with teeth,” but are often too afraid to ask.

Farmer 3: And that’s what makes a bad blow job, not seeing what he likes.

So nugget number one: ASK.  Always. If she likes it rough, so be it, but the only way to not ride the line of raping and murdering your lover is to communicate with her so that you understand the nuance and difference between “it hurts so good” and “you just mauled the woman you love to death.”

Farmer 2: Yeah, rough sex requires a high level of trust because usually the man is physically more powerful than you… and then suddenly you are like, oh shit.

Farmer 1: It depends on the woman and how long you have been dating her.

Farmer 2: It turns from fun to scary pretty quick.  And you can’t always communicate that in the moment.

Farmer 4: Just ask, even if you are in the middle of it.

Aha.  Yes, communication and rules can be set up before the act so that freedom reigns.  For more read “When Is Rough Too Rough?.”   On setting safe rules for rough play in the bedroom read “Doing It Rough, Safe,” or “He Ignores My Safe Word.”

I once had a friend who was annoyed about catering to women, “What am I supposed to do,” he asked, “treat every woman I sleep with like she is the survivor of rape and incest?”  The answer: Yes.  How do you treat a survivor?  With respect, listening to her cues.  That shouldn’t be so hard.  Every woman you sleep with is a potential survivor of abuse.  Does that mean she wants to be cuddled and coddled?  Maybe.  And maybe not.

One man I knew in college was so sensitive that he treated his girlfriend with extreme care. Years later she took me aside and complained, angrily, about how he was so tender all the time, that he wouldn’t listen to her actual wants and needs.  She liked it rough and he liked treating her like a fragile delicate flower.

Farmer 1: An ideal lover is someone capable of both being able to communicate and ask, while still being masculine, being a leader.

Farmer 3: I am really turned on when a man takes control.

Farmer 4: Take charge can mean, “does this feel good?”  It can be as simple as taking charge through questions.

We concurred that a good lover is like a good dance partner.  He takes charge, but it is a symbiotic relationship.  Ie, for him to take charge, you have to give the reigns.  It is mythical power, a structure in place for the sake of leading towards a goal.

Farmer Yenta: They are leading you, but you are still fueling that dance.

Farmer 1: It is about creating a safe space for expression.

A few other things that came up: a real loathing of obligatory sexual exchange.  Ie, when a man gives to receive.  Penises are charged with meaning for women everywhere, and depending on the nature of the sexual exchange, to want to service that body part needs to come about organically.  If there is any sense of force or obligation, a woman often begrudgingly and sadly delivers.

Farmer 1: Give because you want to give, never expect anything in return.  If you go down, do it because you love it, not because you want more of it.  Giving to receive ends in resentment.

Farmer 3: Yeah, just don’t give at all if you don’t enjoy it.

And a word on expression.  The craigslist article reads: “It’s OK for you to make noise. Otherwise, we feel like we are f*#$ing a ninja.”

Farmer 4: I looooove when men make noise.

Farmer 3: It’s men’s excitement that drives to much of it.  Their passion for you – that has to come out.  If they are excited to rip my clothes off, then I get turned on.

Top farmer sex read:  The Guide To Getting It On! by Paul Joannides

Finally, our favorite nugget from this “book” you read online:

“Ohmyf*#!ingg-d, please learn to respect the clit. It’s different for every woman, so ask what she likes. Do not, I repeat, do not just wiggle your fingers around her pussy like you’re trying to tickle her. Do not drum your fingertips against her vulva like you are impatiently waiting at the Sears Tire Center for your receipt. Do not push the clit like it is a doorbell at some house that you need to get inside of. Start by using all four fingers with firm yet gentle pressure against the outside of her pussy. Do not charge in with a single finger and start jabbing at things. And if you really don’t know what to do, ask her. Just ask. “How do you like it?”. It’s a simple question, and most women will answer straight out. If she’s being all coy, ask “Do you like pressure? Is it sensitive?” The clitoris is a varied item, indeed. Treat each one as though you have never encountered one before. Forget everything that your last partner liked.”


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

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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Boyfriend Addict

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on May 3, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Dear Yenta,

I just broke up with my boyfriend of about 4 years, 3 weeks ago.  Our relationship had been dying for the past 6 months (but had never been easy.)  He does not live in the same city as me.  I’d been attracted to a very good friend of mine for quite awhile, and a few days after I broke up with my boyfriend, we hooked up.  We’ve been hooking up ever since, and spending a lot of time together. . I’ve been very clear that I do not want to be in another relationship right away.
But, he is  a very good friend that I spend a lot of time with anyway, an now adding the physical stuff in just makes it more intense.  I’m having a great time with him, and don’t want to stop, but at the same time, We’ve pretty much slipped into relationship mode very quickly.
He stays at my apartment a lot, we talk almost every day.  It’s hard to say  “I don’t want to be in a relationship” with this person that I spend so much time with and care so much about. It’s not about commitment phobia, it’s about wanting to actually feel single and have fun with that. What to do?

-Piper Got A New Man

You think you are innocent, you unwitting wooer. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,


This is the opposite of commitment phobia.  This is commitment mania.  This is a common disease amongst young attractive women.  They break up, and are immediately swooped in upon, yanked from the gap between lovers, and reinstated into committed existence.  A lot of women envy women like you, with weird rose-colored glasses, because you are the woman who seems to always know how to get the man.
The real question is, how to get off the man.  Yes.  You sound like you want some time to yourself, but are being wooed so fast, and giving in so quickly, that there isn’t, literally, any space for solitude.  With a man’s legs draped across your own, it is difficult to choose the to be alone.
What do you do?  What everyone else wishing to be in your shoes is told.  You need to step back, breathe, and figure out your pattern.  Why is it so easy to give in to this man’s desire for you?  Why is your desire so all-consuming?  Is this about “friendship?”  Or are you using that as an excuse, as a way to guiltily bind yourself to this next suitor?
Friends let friends grieve.  Isn’t that what being single begins with?  A period of grieving, a deep sigh, and then a hot pink dress and some girlfriends at a bar?  Maybe.  Single, it sounds like to me, means worrying about you and not the men who plant themselves in your heart for a hot little minute.  It might mean Carrie-ing it up, but I think it is different, something about disentangling from the influence of a constant partner to decipher who you are and what you really want.
You say, “Homeboy, I love sleeping with you, but I think this is bad timing.  I haven’t had a chance to process what happened with my ex and need that time for myself.”  He might pout, stomp, slam things.  He might ignore you and continue to try and seduce you.  He might hate you.  Whichever it is, you basically need to make a decision about who you are choosing, you or the suitors.  If he is really your “friend” he will get it, let you breathe. 
Your job, however, is more important than his.  He might run or he might woo, but you need to be sure you don’t follow him as he seesaws.  Your job is to be strong in your decision, and not give in when the loneliness comes creeping in.  Being single is bold and brazen and sometimes torture.  The reason why many women never get off the commitment train is because that space between is not easy to navigate.  It is not all martini parties and one-night stands and brunches.  When the going gets tough, you have to be careful not to run sobbing back to this male friend, because chances are you will wind up in his bed for many moons to come.    

For more on serial monogamy, click here.

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

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
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