Q: What’s the best gift to give someone for a housewarming present? A blender? A potted plant? I’m at a loss. They say not to bring anything, but it’s just in my nature to want to give them something. Help! Alexander F. in Stockton, CA
A: Let me interpret for you what your friends are saying: “We have the stuff we want, and we don’t want you adding to it because we don’t trust your taste.” But I also understand the urge to give to people you love, so here are the two smart, safe gifts. #1: Cut flowers, because they brighten the room for a few days, conveniently die, then can be tossed out like old, sticky porn. #2: Gift card, because that allows them to buy the stuff they really do want. Make it from a major credit card company, too, so it can be used for anything from pizza to penicillin.
MAKING BUTTER BETTER Q: I always wind up dating guys who take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to come. I can’t tell ya how many forearm cramps I’ve gotten just stroking away like I’m trying to churn butter. I get bored waiting so long for them to climax. Even if I hold off on coming myself to be better paced with my man, I wind up with a lost hard-on and still bored. I ask these guys what I can do to help, and even with the stuff to help turn them on, they still take a while to come. What advice can you give me to keep my own interest and excitement up while trying to bring my partner to climax? Patrick via instinctmagazine.com
A: If you’re doing it like you’re “trying to churn butter,” that’s your first clue. Instead of approaching sex like it’s a farm chore, try bringing that other big throbbing love muscle into the picture—your heart. Focus on pleasing him, not merely getting him off. Especially if you’re just getting him off so that he’ll get you off. Asking a guy what he likes is nice, but again, not if you’re only doing that to speed up getting to Patrick popping. Slow down and genuinely pay attention to your partner’s moans, body language, etc. Eroticize watching him respond to your touch. Get off on the power you have to make him curl his toes. That’ll keep your interest up and help him get to where he wants to go. Be more in the moment and less about the result.
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GETTING TO HAPPY Q: I haven’t been truly happy in a long time. I’m alone in life, wondering where life went wrong for me and if it has to do with my sexuality. I’ve never accepted who I am. I’m 36 and struggle every day. At bars and gay events I feel like an outcast. I don’t know if I’m bi, straight or what. Plus most gay men want a good-looking guy, and I feel fat and bald. I need to change my outward appearance, but the inside is bad as well. In normal life I’m not shy, but when it comes to the gay lifestyle, I’m insecure and miserable. I get scared and shut down. Me telling you is a big step for me. I don’t know what the next step is, but I wanted to vent to you since I trust you.
I need to like myself first, but I’m not sure how or what to do. I think I’m a nice guy and a good-hearted person who just got lost in life and struggles. Jeremy in New Orleans, LA
A: Jeremy, my dear, you already know what you need to do—learn to love yourself. As for “how,” well, I’m going to tell you some New Age woo-woo that’s gonna sound like crap-crap, but it’s the truth: The first step is you gotta decide to be happy. Not “less unhappy,” but by damn, happy! The decision is the turning point, because we live into our beliefs. If you believe your life took a wrong turn, you’ll be right. If you believe there won’t be any happiness for you, you’ll also be right. So stop believing that bullshit and believe something better! A belief is nothing but a thought you have over and over until it wears a tired-ass rut in your brain. The good news is you can change your thoughts and therefore your beliefs. Try out this as your first new thought: “I am worth some therapy.” Seriously. I’m only allowed 800 words here, so I can’t fix the internalized homophobia you’ve been taught nor the sexual uncertainty. In most cities, the local gay & lesbian center or PFLAG group can help you find queer-friendly counselors. Call your local counseling line. It’s time to stop being sad about what you think you are and start discovering the complex, rich, rewarding person waiting inside who can be happy.