Oh, No! I’m Pregnant…Repost

I wrote this post a year and a half ago, but thought it was worth repeating.  I’m reposting it for those who don’t go back into my archives…

How stressful is it to find out you’re pregnant when you weren’t expecting it?  Let’s face it, having a baby wasn’t exactly in your 4 year college plan.  So what do you do?  First, if you are in a relationship, talk to your boyfriend.  This can be a very difficult conversation.  The first emotion most people feel is denial.  Don’t feel hurt if he is hoping that maybe the pregnancy test was wrong.  He isn’t rejecting you, his brain is just in freak out, no this can’t be happening mode.  If you’ve had a few hours or days to digest this, it will take that amount of time for him to catch up with you.  His first reaction may be to consider abortion.  This too, is common.  The first instincts aren’t pregnantalways the smartest.  There is a lot to discuss and consider.

You both have to think about whether you want to tell family members.  If you have a supportive family it may help you to decide what to do.  If you don’t, you may want to decide what you are going to do before telling your families.  Or you may decide not to tell them at all.  Without outside family support, it is very hard for two college students to raise a baby on their own.  It has and can be done, but not without major sacrifice.  Even with a lot of family support, keeping the baby requires giving up a lot of things.  It may require one or both of you to have to drop out of school either temporarily or permanently.  When you aren’t expecting to have to make these types of decisions, it can be very overwhelming.

However, the pregnancy has a way of marching on.  You can’t NOT decide when it comes to being pregnant.  The baby can only stay in the womb for so long.  If you decide to have the baby, whether you keep it or not, you will need proper prenatal care.  Then you have a few months to decide whether you want to give the baby up for adoption or keep it.  There are many places that help women with the adoption process.  You may consider an open adoption where you still get to be a part of the baby’s life or a closed adoption where you give up all rights and no information is released to the adoptive parents.

If you decide to have an abortion, your timeline shrinks.  In order to take the abortion pill, you need to make up your mind within 9 weeks of pregnancy.  Some women don’t find out they’re pregnant until they are 6-8 weeks along.  After 9 weeks you will need to have an in-clinic abortion.  One type of in-clinic abortion is aspiration or vacuum aspiration.  This type is used up until the 16th week of pregnancy.  After 16 weeks another type of in-clinic abortion is used which is called dilation and evacuation.  Pain and cramping is involved with all types of abortion procedures.

No matter what you decide this is a life changing decision.  You and your boyfriend will never be the same.  That is why using birth control is so important.  If you both feel the same way, making the decision together can bring you closer no matter what you decide to do.  It is when you disagree on the decision that stress adds up exponentially in the relationship.  Both women and men have come in for counseling because their partner pushed them into a decision they didn’t agree with.  A lot of resentment, guilt and anger can build up in this case.  Making this decision is hard enough without also having to go against your values.  Please seek out other people to consult with if you and your partner can’t agree on what to do about the baby.

pregnancyAlso be prepared for psychological stress after you go through with your decision.  If you decide to have an abortion, it may be hard to mentally deal with this after the fact.  The same is true with adoption.  Many people have reported that they go through a grief process afterwards.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel sad or upset.  It is normal to feel this way.  If you have unresolved anger, guilt or resentment towards yourself or your partner, please seek some kind of counseling to help you resolve those feelings.  Also, if you find out you’re pregnant and you aren’t in a relationship, seek the advice of someone close to you that you trust.  This will help you talk through your options.  Have that person there with you if you decide to get an abortion, see a doctor for a check-up, or see an adoption specialist.  It is not recommended that you make every decision and do everything on your own.  That is a huge weight to carry and it helps to share the load with at least one trusted person to help you get through it.

If you do find out you or your girlfriend is pregnant there are many resources that can help you with your decision.  A few a listed below.

Planned Parenthood

Adoption

Pregnancy Options

Signs Of Cheating

It’s hard to be sure if someone’s cheating, but protect yourself: Be vigilant, and pay attention to your mind and spirit within the relationship.  But, at the same time, be careful not to let anxiety lead the way because unnecessary paranoia will just drive the one you love away.  It is important to be confident in your relationship.  Insecurity can lead you to want to see things that aren’t there.  However, there are certain signs of cheating or lying that you can be more aware of in your relationship.

Here are some red flags that may signal that your significant other is cheating: 

Changes in Your Sex Life-  At first you may notice your partner wants to have more sex than usual.  This can actually happen when someone is beginning to cheat because they are turned on by this new person they’ve met.  It is sad, but true, that they may be thinking of this person and feel more sexual.  In time, if they actually start having sex with this person on a continuous basis, you may find your sex life comes to a sudden halt.  Unless your partner has super human powers, they can only have so much sex.  So, if they’re getting it from another source, you might notice.  Whether or not they are actually cheating with another person or they have a porn addiction, a decrease in sex signals possible issues in the relationship.

Jumpy Cell Phone Habits-  In a perfect world, we’d be open about sharing our correspondence with our significant others.  Most of the time, we trust that we don’t have to worry about who is texting or calling them.  But, if you notice that they’re getting protective and/or nervous when they gets calls or texts, it may be cause for alarm.

Gushing or Talking About Someone Suddenly-  You know that exhilarating feeling you get when you meet someone new and exciting?  You want to tell the world about him or her.   If your partner  begins talking a lot about a guy or girl they recently met, you may want to have your radar tuned in.  It may sound just friendly at first, but if this person keeps coming up in conversation, you may want to see if your partner is willing to let you meet this person they find so fascinating.  If they are reluctant, there may be more going on.

Disconnect-   Even though relationships ebb and flow naturally, if you’re sensing that your partner is pulling away from you, then there may be someone else.  Emotional disconnect should be investigated regardless of whether it’s caused by cheating.  There’s a problem if they aren’t laughing or seeming as passionate as usual.  It’s hard to spread love/passion between two people, so the person who used to have it will feel it slipping away if it’s being given to someone else.

Pulling a Houdini-  If your boyfriend or girlfriend is disappearing, traveling, or unavailable by phone to the point where you are starting to wonder, then they could be cheating.  Also, these times tend to take on a pattern because it’s tough to synch up schedules, especially in secret.

Friends Acting Strange-  Their friends will certainly remain loyal to them in most cases.  They will not let you know what’s going on, but they will definitely be racked with guilt, and their behavior may change slightly when they are around you while protecting their friend’s secret.

Caught in Lies About Other Things-  If you catch your partner in a lie, your trust will naturally be damaged.  Don’t hold a grudge — forgiveness is a good thing.  If they consistently break your trust, it’s can start a pattern of behavior that may lead to cheating.  Do yourself a favor: If they keep lying, whether these lies are big or small, seriously reconsider your reasons for wanting to remain in the relationship.

Done It Before-  Know your partner’s history.  It can be a red flag if they cheated before, but definitely consider the context.  If it was at the end of a bad relationship and they didn’t have that pattern with other boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s, you may not want to panic.  If someone is upfront with you that they’ve made mistakes in the past, maybe give them a chance — but make it a long probationary period before you let your guard down.  If they have cheated several times in one relationship, or cheated in several different relationships, you may want to open your eyes to the reality of the situation.  Especially if you find out from someone else, or they tell you after you catch them lying about something else.  Not being upfront, is a huge red flag.  There are people out there who simply can’t or won’t be faithful in relationships.

Trust Your Gut-  Don’t ignore your sixth sense.  People are gifted at sensing when something doesn’t feel right.  Whether or not there are red flags in your relationship, if something feels off, don’t ignore this feeling.  Usually that feeling is right, and something intangible may urge to look further into the situation.

Happy National Coming Out Day!!

The History of Coming Out

In the Beginning, There Was a March

On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ) and AT&T’s LGBT employee group, LEAGUE.  The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.

To this day National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBT individuals to live truthfully and openly.

2012- Come Out. Vote.

Celebrities Come Out for Equality in 2012

Whether it’s coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or as an ally, countless American musicians, athletes, politicians, news anchors and actors have advanced the movement for equality this year. In honor of National Coming Out Day, here are a few of this year’s standout coming out moments in pop culture.

Frank Ocean

Singer, songwriter, producer and hip-hop icon Frank Ocean came out this summer as bisexual. In a beautifully written letter on his tumblr, Ocean said, “I don’t know what happens now and that’s alright. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore… I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now.” Ocean’s coming out garnered support from several hip-hop artists and media moguls, including Russell Simmons, who tweeted, “Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear. His gifts are undeniable.  His talent, enormous.  His bravery, incredible.  His actions this morning will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people.” Ocean’s coming out helped to prompt an ongoing dialogue within the hip hop community about sexuality and equality.

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe not only helped lead the US Women’s National Soccer team to an Olympic gold medal this summer, but she’s also played an important role in paving the road to equality for LGBT athletes. In an interview with AfterEllen earlier this year, Rapinoe spoke with joy about her life as a gay woman: “I’m obviously very proud of who I am. I couldn’t be happier with who I am. [Coming out] was something that was important to me.” Rapinoe’s likability and charm has earned her a widespread fan following since 2011’s World Cup, and the self-confidence she projects continues to steer the sports world in a direction of openness and acceptance.

Against Me! lead singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel)

Against Me! lead singer Tom Gabel came out this year as transgender and began her transition to living as Laura Jane Grace. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Laura recalls coming out as trans to her wife, Heather, and Heather’s reaction is an example of unconditional love: “He told her he was transsexual, and her response was, ‘Of all the things you could have told me, that is the least worst.’” Heather notes, “My friends have been like, ‘What about you?’ But I’m fine. I just want him to be who he is, and for us to get on with phase two. You know. Just… charge!” Laura and Heather have a young daughter, and Laura explains, “The thing I keep coming back to is that there’s no better example I can set as a parent than being true to myself. I hope…that’s what she learns from me.”

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper came out this year and emphasized the joy his identity brings him. “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.” He went on to explain the significance of being recognized as an equal human being: “In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted.”

Barack Obama

Perhaps the most famous of this year’s coming out moments came from President Obama, who came out as a supporter of same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News. His announcement came on the heels of North Carolina’s vote to pass Amendment One, which barred same-sex couples from marrying, banned recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, and stripped away other vital protections for unmarried North Carolinians and their families.  Obama is the first president to ever declare his support for marriage equality, marking a historical moment for the LGBT community. President Obama declared, “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Read more on the Human Rights Center page

The Text You Wish You Could Take Back!

It’s Saturday morning or maybe afternoon.  You wake up and look at your phone.  Then you start to freak out as you read your texts from the night before.   You know you’ve done it!  Then afterwards you swear to yourself that it will never happen again.  But like Katie Perry sings, “Next Friday night…do it all again!”

So, are you really doomed every weekend to text something you regret at 2am?  Let’s just say that not a lot of good things happen at 2am with your phone unfortunately.  Even if you haven’t been drinking or engaging in extracurricular activities, your guard is down when you’re tired.  The judgment part of your brain that usually tells you to stop before doing something stupid isn’t at its peak after a certain time at night.  When you stay up late because your bored, studying, or even partying, it makes you vulnerable to those thoughts and feelings you’ve been able to keep under control the rest of the day.

How many of you text your ex in the early afternoon because you miss them and want to hook up for a few hours?  I’m guessing very few.  How many of you text your ex after at 11pm, midnight, or 1am to see if they’re awake and want to hook up?  I’m guessing a few more hands went into the air.  You may think alcohol gives you the liquid courage you needed to take a risk.  But, in reality the alcohol, or even just being over tired, is what shuts down the part of your brain that thinks through the possible consequences of your actions.  It is only when you wake up the next day that your brain remembers why you should delete that person’s number from your phone.

Even if you didn’t actually hook up, you still sent a text that you now wish you could suck back through cyber space.  It’s now out there that you are still thinking about this person.  Maybe you feel embarrassed or mad at yourself for giving your ex or some other idiot an ego boost.  You know when you get a drunk text there is a part of you that feels good.  It can be offensive or annoying, but it can also feel empowering.  This is why on the other end the person is cringing the next day.  It sucks to show vulnerability.  All I can say is that you are not alone.

It is common to have those weak moments.  The lyrics of the song, One More Night by Maroon 5, say it better than I can.  “Trying to tell you “no” but my body keeps on telling you “yes”.  Trying to tell you to stop, but your lipstick got me so out of breath.  I’d be waking up in the morning, probably hating myself.  And I’d be waking up, feeling satisfied but guilty as hell.  But baby there you go again, there you go again, making me love you. Yeah, I stopped using my head, using my head, let it all go.  Got you stuck on my body, on my body, like a tattoo.  And now I’m feeling stupid, feeling stupid, crawling back to you.  So I cross my heart and I hope to die.  That I’ll only stay with you one more night.  And I know I said it a million times.  But I’ll only stay with you one more night.”

Either Adam Levine has sent one of those texts or he knows someone who has.  How do you think one more night starts?  With a text late at night!!  So how do you solve this problem?  Flush your phone down the toilet??  Probably not.  There really is no easy way to stop being stupid with your phone if you feel tired, lonely or just plain horny.  Unfortunately, your phone, with all its cool capabilities, isn’t always your friend.  Also, be aware that life is full of mistakes.  Usually humans need to put themselves in a lot of pain or have to feel a lot of fear to change a behavior.  If you make too many mistakes with your phone, you hopefully start to feel some pain from embarrassment or become afraid of losing something else you value (like a current relationship).  Once you’ve reached a certain pain threshold, then even liquid courage isn’t going to coerce you to send a text you’ll later regret.

Not all late night texts are going to be painful.  Some might even be cute or hilarious.  However, if they are painful or get you into trouble, then hope that memory will help stop you in the future.  No one likes it, but pain is a good reminder of what NOT to do.  If something hurts, you most likely will try to avoid it in the future.  If you keep repeating something, either it hasn’t been painful enough or too much time has gone by and the pain has faded away.  At some point though, it will get easier to have more control over your phone.   Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself okay?

Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Ex

This can be quite the pickle as you end a relationship and feel as if you don’t necessarily want it to be completely over. Carefully walk the friend line because there is a good chance someone will be hurt.

So here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex.

1. When you breakup with someone you are still going to have feelings for them– you can’t just turn them off once you become friends. This is going to lead to a disaster or disappointment.

2. False Hope– when you become friends with your ex, you don’t necessarily want to admit that there is any false hope. Let’s be honest; one of you will have the anticipation that you will get back together.

3. You’ve seen each other naked. This is going to be kind of awkward as you hang out and you will surely blur what a friendship is once a conversation leads to a topic having anything to do with being naked.

4. You’re not going to actively want them to be with anyone else. What is the point of being friends if you can’t really be friends with them on Facebook and comfortably see who they are flirting with? Also, judging the girl commenting on his pictures isn’t the healthiest hobby to have.

5. Friends can talk about sex and dating other people. There is a good chance you will be uncomfortable if you ever hear anything sexual about your ex which defeats the purpose of a friendship. Why would you want to talk about sex with your ex… who you are NOT having sex with?

6. Good chance you will sleep with each other again. You might regret this the day after when you are confused about what you should think or say to them. Especially if one doesn’t become attached from it.

7. You deserve to be around people who make you happy. If your ex broke up with you, then you need to reconsider how they really make you feel. If you think they make you happy, then the next day you hate them—that doesn’t sound like much fun.

8. Hanging out with friends requires friend activities, including attending their wedding(s). Can you go to your ex’s wedding and be fine with it?

9. Being friends with your ex is just going to lead to breaking up again and again. Going through a breakup once is already hard enough. Why do it more than once?

10. This doesn’t necessarily apply to every ex. There are rare relationships where the ending is truly mutual and neither would care if the other has moved on and are not interested in being an item again.

I hope these reasons were able to help you out in some way. It’s never a fun situation to be in but remember you will be fine and you need to keep your chin up!

This post originally featured in Living the College Life

Hooking Up With Your Ex

Weak moments…many people have them when it comes to their ex’s.  Since it seems to be almost impossible to delete them off your Facebook and out of your contacts on your phone, it is too easy to hit them up for sex when you have a lonely or drunk moment.

It is logical to want to stay away from someone you just broke up with.  However, break ups are rarely ever logical.  Emotions are messy and it can take awhile to extricate someone completely out of your life.  Unless one half of the couple is resolute on never speaking to the other half ever again, sex is very likely to happen.

Why?  Because loneliness sucks!  Your mind tells you that at least your ex is familiar territory.  Sometimes there is an underlying agenda of wanting to get back together with your ex.  Sometimes it is just about wanting sex in a weak or stupid moment.  Other times, you just don’t want them to be having sex with anyone else, so you make sure your still offering it up.  You may not exactly want to get back together, but you aren’t ready to let them go either.

Whatever reason you are using to still hook up with your ex, just know that it could make things a lot more messy in long run.  First scenario, you are still in love with your ex, but your ex is no longer in love with you.  Yes, they may agree to have sex with you which makes you feel good in the moment.  However, after that moment passes you feel even more alone.  It can make you miss that person more and hope that maybe you might get back together.  You may think you can keep it casual, but deep down you know you’ll freak out if you find out they are seeing someone else.  Unfortunately, this is how this particular scenario usually ends up.  One day your ex will find someone else, at that point, they are probably going to have an easier time turning you down for sex.  When you find out they are in fact seeing and having sex with someone else you are going to go through the break up pain all over again.  The hope of getting back together is gone and it can be pretty devastating.

Second scenario, you are wanting to have sex with your ex to keep them from having sex with someone else.  This may or may not work in reality.  Remember, you are no longer together.  This means they aren’t cheating on you if they are having sex with someone else during the same time period they are still having sex you.  If it comes out that they are sleeping with other people besides you it is going to cause you to feel very angry.  You will want to start a fight that you don’t really have a right to start.  They don’t owe you anything after a break up.  I know they SHOULD have told you they were having sex with someone else, but they don’t HAVE to.  You may still feel like they cheated on you because they weren’t upfront.  However, remember many people lie in order to have sex.  Don’t be surprised that your ex is doing the same thing.

Third scenario, you just want a random hook up because you are feeling lonely or too drunk to care.  Maybe you don’t have a hidden agenda.  You have emotionally moved on, but the prospect of having sex with your ex is too strong to pass up.  This seems simple and at first doesn’t reveal any complications.  However, what do you think the chances are your ex is on the same emotional page as you when it comes to your break up?  Lets guess…about 1%.  I haven’t done a study, but I feel that is a pretty good guess.  So don’t complain when the texts and phone calls start up the following day.  You may have just opened a door that should have remained shut.  Now you have to deal with the emotional fall out all over again because they are hoping to see you or hang out again.  Remember, you aren’t the only one involved in this game, be prepared for drama when you don’t respond to their text or Facebook message the next day.

Last scenario, you are in a new relationship, but feel like hooking up with your ex for old times sake.  Think again!  This is cheating and don’t think your ex won’t try to mess up your new relationship because they are too mature for that kind of drama.  You are taking a very big chance that all will stay quiet and on the down low.  If you are in a new relationship then that hopefully means you have moved on.  Stay moved on or decide not to get into a new relationship yet.  The mature thing to do is be faithful, instead of expecting your ex to the mature one by not updating their status as “hooked up with ex last night”  on their Facebook page.

No one is perfect and it is hard to move on after a break up.  I know having sex with your ex is common, but don’t give up on trying to set better boundaries with them.  It is possible, and deep down, you know you either want more from your ex or they are wanting more from you.  Remember, short term pain for long term gain.  I always tell students that they can handle a lot more than they think they can.  Which means you can get through that lonely moment and feel proud of yourself the next day that you didn’t give in.  In the mean time, if you do mess up, just remember a day will come when you will be moved on.  Live for that day and don’t give up trying to make that day sooner than later.

Acquaintance Rape

September is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  I wrote this post last year, but feel it is worth repeating.  Date rape happens more often than people think and the beginning of the school year is when most rapes occur.  You think you would know if you’d been raped right?  Not necessarily.  I’ve had women come in for counseling because they felt a friend or acquaintance took advantage of them, either while they were drinking or while they were feeling vulnerable.  They either felt they couldn’t say no or felt pressured by the person they thought they could trust.

Acquaintance Rape happens a lot more often then being assaulted by a stranger.  Over 77% of women report being sexually assaulted by someone they know.  Of those 77% only 2% will actually report the assault.  Why do you think so many women refuse to come forward?  Sometimes it is out of fear.  Sometimes it’s because the woman blames herself for getting into the situation.  Sometimes the woman feels she didn’t say no forcefully enough.   A lot of the time, women will minimize their feelings and try to tell themselves to just forget what happened.

The following situation is an example of why sexual assault isn’t always so black and white:   One night a woman runs into one of her male friends.  She is upset, and he offers to listen and give her some advice.  She starts crying and opening up about what happened with another guy.  She tells him she feels rejected and unlovable.   Her male friend offers comfort and support.  He may start to hug her and rub her back.  It starts to get late and he asks her to stay a little longer so she won’t feel lonely.  They hang out and talk some more.  He starts to cuddle with her and before she realizes it they are kissing.  She says she should leave, but he convinces her that the other guy is stupid for rejecting her.  He tells he thinks she is beautiful, and he would never do that to her.  He continues to touch her and she gives in.  Soon most of their clothing is removed.  She starts to push him away again, but he resists and continues to hold and touch her.  He tells her not to worry, he’ll treat her right.  She feels guilty for letting things go this far.  She also feels she owes him for listening to her.  They have sex.

The best outcome of this scenario is the next day she feels bad about giving in and having sex.  She feels she consented in the end because she didn’t say no.  She may confront her friend and tell him she regrets her decision and doesn’t want to have sex with him again.  She may or may not ever choose to open up to him again when she feels upset or vulnerable.  She may also have lost some respect or trust for him, but doesn’t feel traumatized by the event.

The next best scenario is the next day she feels bad about giving in and having sex.  She regrets it, but doesn’t feel strong enough to say anything to him.  She may act like it never happened.  She most likely will avoid talking to him when she feels so upset and vulnerable.  She has lost trust and respect for her friend.  A distance grows between them.  She may feel a little upset about the event, but tells herself she has lived and learned.  Next time she will open up to a girlfriend or talk to her guy friends during the daytime when she feels a little safer.

The worst scenario is the next day she feels sick to her stomach when she thinks about what happened.  She feels violated.  She regrets not saying no more forcefully, but feels he should have known she wasn’t there for sex.  She wishes he would have listened when she tried to stop him earlier and pushed him away.  She not only has lost trust and respect for this male friend, she now feels like he is a predator who only listened to her so he could get sex.  She feels traumatized by the event and can’t stop thinking about it.  She is very emotional and doesn’t know what she should do now.  She is very afraid of seeing him again.  Will anyone believe her?  She may start to blame herself and tell herself all the things she should have done.  She most likely won’t report it.  She will go on to blame herself even though somewhere inside she knows she was sexually assaulted by her friend.

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that  1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted.  September happens to be the month when most sexual assaults are reported.  School has just begun and many college students are experiencing their freedom for the first time.  Students go out with their friends and blow off stress from the week.  Some may drink and end up in situations similar to the one above.  The next day they may feel they were assaulted, but don’t report it because they blame themselves for drinking too much.

Unfortunately, sexual assault can happen in all different types of situations.  However, they all leave the person assaulted feeling very vulnerable, scared and alone.  A lot of guilt is also embedded into these situations.  I used the above example to show that rape isn’t always black and white.  Different people are going to feel differently after experiencing similar situations.  However, your feelings are not wrong, whether you feel just slightly uncomfortable or horribly traumatized.  Everyone is different, and your feelings are more true than the details of how it happened.  No one can tell you that you shouldn’t feel something.

If you do feel traumatized, it does help to talk about it.  Processing your feelings can help you move through them.  This will make them less powerful in your mind and help you learn to not blame yourself.  You won’t “get over it”, but it may help you not think about it all the time or have nightmares about it.   I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I do know that women have worked through this and felt they were able to take their power back.  If you are continuing to struggle, please see a counselor or someone non-judgmental who won’t tell you how to feel, but help you process your feelings no matter what they are.

Why Are You Having Sex?

There are a lot of reasons to have sex.  Same action, different intent (or reason), different result.  Sex can be simple or it can get really complicated.  When deciding to have sex, make sure it’s for the right reasons, otherwise the complications add up quickly.

Why have sex?  That is a good question.  Hopefully you decide to have sex because you are in love with someone and want to take your relationship to the next level.  Maybe you decide to have sex because it is fun.   There are many good reasons to have sex, and it doesn’t matter how often.  Even more promiscuous people can be having sex for the right reasons.  In fact a lot of promiscuous people tend to be safer, have more satisfying experiences, and have a sex-positive outlook on life.  Why?  Because they are confident about their decision to have sex.  It is about doing what they want, not about feeling obligated or trying to please someone else.  People who are confident also don’t need to have sex to feel attractive.  They can go out with their friends and not feel compelled to end the night in bed with someone else.  They have standards that they don’t lower just for the sake of sleeping with someone.  Sex isn’t an integral part of their personality – it’s essentially one part of their life that they enjoy.

The decision to have sex should be about you, not about impressing someone else or making someone else happy.  If you feel like you can’t say no, or you don’t have the right to say no, then you are getting into risky territory.  This is your body, and emotional and physical health you’re talking about here.  You should be making the decision to have sex because it is what you want. However, I find a lot of people hop into bed with someone they’re not even attracted to because they feel obligated to have sex.  This could mean there is something in your brain telling you the only value you have is sexual, or that people will only like you if you have sex with them.  You may also feel incomplete if you’re not having as much sex as other people around you.

Stop and think about your choices.  Remember that you actually DO have a choice to have sex.  It is also okay to decide not to have sex.  There is no rule that you have to hook up with someone because it’s Friday night.  If you have friends who think something is wrong with you because you went home alone, then you may want to examine the type of friends you keep.  The key to all this are the words “have to”.  You don’t HAVE TO do anything.  You can stay home and read a book on Friday night or you can go out and have sex with someone if it makes you happy.  Again, the key is doing what makes you happy.  In college it can be easy to get caught up in doing what you think other people would approve of.  Trust me, it is way more important to do things you approve of.  You have to live with yourself when you wake up the next day.  If you are okay with your choices, then don’t let others judge you or push you into doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.

Also, think about your choices after a night of drinking.  Maybe you make good decisions about sex when you’re sober.  You tend to have sex when it pleases you and wake up with no regrets.  However, is it the same after you’ve been drinking?  I meet with many students who only regret their sexual decisions after a night out drinking.  They didn’t intend to have sex, but find they always end up in someone’s bed after downing a couple shots.  Examine your behavior and make some different choices if what you’re doing isn’t making you happy.  If drinking is causing problems in your life, you may want to figure out how to change this pattern before it becomes even more complicated.

Having sex out of obligation, peer pressure, or only while drinking may be the result of something as serious as sexual trauma, a consequence of dangerously low self-esteem or a desperate desire to fit into the “hookup culture” mold.  If you aren’t having sex because it’s fun, pleasurable or as a way to connect to someone you love, then you need to examine why.  Whether you should seek therapy or whether it’s an issue you can work through on your own or with friends, don’t continue to indulge in behavior that isn’t good for you.  Remember, having sex for the wrong reasons is never going to satisfy you or make you feel good about yourself.

Is Sexting Safe?

I wrote a post over a year ago called Safe Sexting.  I thought it might be smart to reiterate some of the things I said in that post plus add a few new things to think about.  Sexting has become very popular among younger people, and probably some older folks too.  People have told me it is a new way of flirting.  However, you can do some pretty stupid things with a smart phone these days.

Students have asked me if I think sexting is a good idea.  It really depends.  In some cases, it is a very stupid idea.  If you don’t really know the person you are sexting or sending naked pictures to, then it can get out of hand pretty quick.  If this person lives on the other side of the world, it may be relatively safer.  They don’t know any of your friends and family and it is a lot less likely that what you said or the pictures you sent could come back to haunt you.  However, if you just sent off a few pictures of yourself to a person you just met in your anatomy lab, be prepared to have their friends looking at you like they’ve seen you naked.  Chances are, they have.  Colleges and universities are like small communities.  People talk and others around you may know more about you than you think.

Another thing to think about is WHY you’re sexting with someone.  Some students have told me they feel pressured into it.  They start out just flirting with someone else through text, but then it quickly becomes sexual.  They tell me they want this person to like them so they continue to say suggestive things through text.  The next thing they know, the person is asking for a naked photo.  Sending this person a naked photo because you just want to get them to like you isn’t a good reason.  You should engage in sexual behavior because it is your choice and what YOU want to do, not because it is what someone else wants you to do.  Do what you feel comfortable with.  Don’t do something to impress someone or make someone else like you.

Be yourself.  If you aren’t overtly sexual in person, don’t pretend to be through text.  This person may then expect you to follow through with some of those sexual suggestions you made when they see you in person.  If you don’t feel comfortable following through, you shouldn’t be making the suggestions in the first place.  It is important to be confident about your decisions.  If you don’t mind being more sexual both through text and in person, then go ahead.  However, if you don’t feel comfortable than feel confident enough to say so.  If you say no and the other person stops texting you, it is a pretty good indication they only wanted to use you for sex any way.  If you want more than sex, it’s better to be disappointed now rather than later.

Is it smart to send naked pics to your boyfriend or girlfriend who you love and trust?  Maybe.  You could be with someone who you know loves you and would never betray you.  However, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories, so please think twice before sending that naked photo off into cyber land.  Once you send that picture you lose all control, so it is still a big risk.  Relationships break up all the time.  This would be a perfect opportunity for your now ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to get back at you.   The so-called love of your life could save that picture and when they feel angry or upset with you, they may send it to anyone and everyone you know.  Who knows where it could end up after the two of you decide to break up?

Also be aware that if you are in a committed relationship with someone and you are sexting someone else, that is considered cheating.  You can cheat with technology very easily.  Even if the person lives across the world, doing anything behind your boyfriend or girlfriend’s back, is considered deceitful.  You may also want to remove those photos that friends have forwarded to you if you are in a relationship.  If your boyfriend or girlfriend finds a naked photo on your phone that a friend passed along, that could still look very bad for you.  Keeping it on your phone even though it was sent from a buddy of yours, is not considered a smart idea.

Another not so smart idea is sending naked pictures of yourself to someone who doesn’t desire to receive one.  This person is NOT going to consider you irresistibly sexy if they receive unsolicited texts or pictures of a sexual nature.  It is usually a huge turn off.  Don’t just assume someone is willing.  Ask the person if they are okay with it before sending anything sexual.  If that person says no, be respectful.  It is also not a turn on to beg someone for sexual material either.  NO means NO.  If you proceed after this point it is considered sexual harassment.

If you want to be a little smarter while sexting it is a good idea not to send any pictures with your face also in the photo.  Some people say it is a little less likely that you will be able to identified in case the picture gets out to others.  Yet, remember, many famous people have been identified in naked photos even though their face wasn’t in the picture.  You may also want to set some ground rules before you engage in sexting as well.  Let the person know how far you want to go.  You may want to tell them upfront that you don’t mind flirting sexually, but you don’t want to receive or send any naked pictures.  If you aren’t ready to have sex with this person, it is also a good idea to let them know up front that you like to flirt, but don’t plan on meeting up with them at 2am to hook up.

I said this in my last post, but I think it is worth repeating.  As a counselor, I recommend you educate yourself before engaging in sexting with anyone.  It may seem fun, harmless and safer than having sex, but there are still consequences that can be devastating.  Be aware of all the risks before deciding what is best for you.  If you are over 18 it isn’t illegal to send sexual material over your phone to someone else that is over 18.  You have to decide what you are comfortable with and be strong about setting a clear boundary with others who are trying to engage you in this behavior.  If you start something and then feel uncomfortable, stop and let the other person know.  If they won’t stop, find a way to block them from your phone if possible or report them for harassment.  Be smart and be safe!

 

Gonorrhea resistant to antibiotics???

This will be horrific if it is true.  I’ve heard on the news that a certain strain of Gonorrhea has become resistant to antibiotics.  The Center for Disease Control has this information on their website.  Right now, this horrible STI is very curable with antibiotics.  If you realize you have it, it can freak you out.  However, with one pill, Gonorrhea is eliminated from your body.  Unlike Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & 2, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis and HIV which can be treated, but can’t be cured.  Gonorrhea may join these incurable STI’s if it continues to become resistant to antibiotics.  It is important to know the facts and do what you can to prevent contracting this or any STI”s at all.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection which can be contracted through semen or vaginal fluids during unprotected sexual contact, heterosexual or homosexual, with an infected partner:

  • vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner
  • oral sex, although this is less common
  • sharing sex toys
  • touching parts of the body with fingers (for example, touching the private parts and then the eyes)
  • any very close physical contact
  • the bacteria can be passed from hand to hand (very rare isolated cases)
  • from a mother to her baby at birth

You can NOT catch it from simple kissing, sharing baths, towels, cups, or from toilet seats according to the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guide.

The best way to prevent contracting Gonorrhea is abstinence from sex.  If this is not realistic, then it is advised to follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of contracting Gonorrhea or any other STI:

  • Use latex condoms from start to finish every time you have oral, vaginal or anal sex.
  • Have sex with only one uninfected partner whom only has sex with you (mutual monogamy).
  • Water-based spermicides can be used along with latex condoms for additional protection during vaginal intercourse. Use of spermicide is not recommended nor found to be effective for oral or anal intercourse.
  • Have regular check-ups if you are sexually active.
  • If you have an STD, don’t have sex (oral, vaginal, anal) until all partners have been treated.
  • Prompt, qualified and appropriate medical intervention, treatment and follow-up are important steps in breaking the disease cycle.
  • Know your partner(s). Careful consideration and open communication between partners may protect all partners involved from infection.

Gonorrhea has several symptoms which can appear 1-14 days after sexual contact.

In women the symptoms appear as:

  • strong smelling vaginal discharge that may be thin & watery or thick & yellow/green
  • irritation or discharge from the anus
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • possibly some low abdominal or pelvic tenderness
  • pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • low abdominal pain sometimes with nausea

In men the symptoms appear as:

  • white, yellow or green thick discharge from the tip of the penis
  • inflammation of the testicles & prostate gland
  • irritation or discharge from the anus
  • urethral itch & pain or burning sensation when passing urine

50% of women and 10% of men do NOT have symptoms of Gonorrhea.  You may pass on the infection because you don’t know you are infected.  The only way to know for sure you have not contracted Gonorrhea is by getting tested.  Very often Gonorrhea is contracted along with Chlamydia.  50% of people who contract Gonorrhea, also contract Chlamydia at the same time.  Make sure you also get treated for Chlamydia if it is not ruled out when you are tested for Gonorrhea.  If Gonorrhea is not treated it can have long term effects on the body.

In women it can cause:

  • life-threatening complications such as ectopic pregnancy (outside the womb)
  • blocked fallopian tubes (the tubes which carry the egg from the ovaries to the womb), which can result in reduced fertility or infertility
  • long-term pelvic pain

In men, it can lead to:

  • painful inflammation of the testicles, which may result in reduced fertility or sterility

It is so important to protect yourself during any sexual contact.  STI’s are real.  Gonorrhea is one of the most common STI’s out there among young people.  It is known that over 65 million people in the United States are living with an STI and 15 million new cases are reported every year.  Please be smart about your sex life and practice safe sex every time you have sex.