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Do It with Emotion

This is a column in which we address questions and topics of all kinds concerning sex and relationships. Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion do not claim to be experts in the fields but have been "around the block" a few times and have seen their share of situations involving relationships and sex. The opinions of Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication.

Dear Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion:

I’ve done some not so conservative sexual things in my past and the guy that I’m dating is angry about this. He says he thinks I’m immoral. I never thought that I should feel ashamed before, but he’s starting to get to me and it’s affecting the relationship. I certainly can’t change my past. What should I do?

- Ghost from the Past

Dr. Do It: I say dump him. Well, not necessarily. Maybe you and your boyfriend should discuss the issue to find out why he feels the way he does. I agree with Ms. Emotion in that you should not feel ashamed about your past. Your past experiences are part of who you are. He may not personally be comfortable with those particular activities that you may have done but if he is comfortable with you as you are now, he should not condemn you for your past. However, if he can’t get over it and it’s getting in the way of the relationship then he’s not right for you and you should get rid of him. It’s not healthy to be in a relationship where one person is looking down upon the other person. If he is has certain moral limits that he needs to stay within, then he needs someone who will fall within those lines.

Ms. Emotion: Dr. Do It, I think you’re being a bit harsh. Although you should be open and honest with your boyfriend about your sexual history, you should not be made to feel less for your past. If you are comfortable with your past, then you should be proud of it, not ashamed. If he truly cares about you, he will try to accept your past. After all, it is your experiences in your past that has shaped who you are today. He is probably experiencing jealousy (either that you were not always his, or that you had adventurous experiences that he did not), and maybe insecurity (because he’s not as experienced as you and the people you have been with are). If he cares about you he should be able to put aside these feelings and respect and love you for who you are. If he truly thinks you are immoral then maybe you should think about whether the two of you are right for each other after all.

Dear Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion:

A close friend of mine has been very touchy-feely recently. I think that it must just be her nature because I see her act that way with some of her other friends. However, it seems like she acts more so with me. I am interested in her physically but I don’t think I’d want to have a romantic relationship with her -- we just don’t have enough in common. I can’t tell what her intentions are. What do you think?

-- Unknown Attractive Forces

Ms. Emotion: There could be several reasons that she is more physically flirtatious with you. She may just feel more comfortable flirting in that way with you than most guys. Perhaps you reciprocate and encourage her flirtations, maybe without even realizing it. Flirting is fun, and it’s always nice to have someone flirt back. Think of it as a positive feedback loop. Or she may be attracted to you or even interested in dating you. Her physical flirtation may be her way of trying to communicate these desires to you. I completely understand that you’re confused.

I think the first thing to do is to decide what you want out of the friendship. Do you like things the way they are, or do you want to move onto a physical relationship? It sounds like you’ve already ruled out a romantic relationship. Once you know what you want, then you should talk to her about it. I know this might sound like it would be a little uncomfortable, but it will probably come to this point anyway it you let it. Be prepared that she might be interested in having a relationship with you. But it’s also very likely that she’s on the same wavelength as you. If you decide to embark on a “friends with benefits” course, then be sure to keep the lines of communication open. Decide what you will do when one of you becomes interested in dating someone else, for example. I think these sorts of friendships can be very special -- just be careful not to let the physical relationship take precedence over your friendship. When it’s all over you will hopefully have a close friend that you’ve shared a lot of wonderful moments with.

Dr. Do It: I think Ms. Emotion summed it up pretty well. Sometimes our initial gut feeling tells us a lot about a situation. Our initial reaction although hasty may typically be the way we actually feel about something before mulling it over and over and reasoning ourselves into something that we may “think” we want. It sounds to me that you are physically attracted to her and like her as a good friend but you don’t want anything more emotionally than that. I have been in that situation before and I know that it can work. But you have to talk with her about what she is really meaning by her actions. I wish you luck in finding out.

If you have any questions for Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion or topics you would like them to discuss, please send e-mail to <advice@the-tech.mit.edu>.