Every day, porn star and University of Southern California journalism grad student Tasha Reign wakes up to a curious string of emails from her fans, a devoted group of men and women she lovingly refers to as “Reigndeer.” Said Reigndeer ask her questions — so many questions — about her perspectives on sex, love, relationships and life itself, and as someone who’s had more firsthand experience in these areas than four average adult women combined, she’s become uniquely up to the task of answering them. Every Friday then, Tasha will select a few of these questions and grace us with her insight, advice and expert wisdom in the hopes that she can help you fuck long and prosper.
Sometimes, my boyfriend and I go through prolonged periods of silence at dinner or in the car where neither of us is talking. It really freaks me out — does that mean something’s wrong with our relationship, or is it a sign we’ve ascended into “old nesting couple” territory? And how long can you be silent for before you know something’s up?
This is definitely one of those questions that will have a different answer for each person as everyone has a different comfort level around silence. Personally, I enjoy short periods of quiet, like when I’m keeping busy on my computer while my boyfriend watches a basketball game, or when we’re in the car listening to music or a podcast. But if we go through an entire car ride without talking, I always feel like something is wrong. I mean, shouldn’t we have something to talk about?
And so, I’d say how you feel about this question depends on a combination of your personality, upbringing and communication style. Some people are super talkative; others are more contemplative ;and most people are somewhere in between, depending on the situation. In any case, it’s important to note that silence doesn’t necessarily mean anything’s wrong. You may just be dating someone who’s more tolerant of silence than you are, which isn’t inherently good or bad, it just is.
In fact, in many people’s families and in other cultures, long silences are a sign that you’re comfortable with each other. So if you feel comfortable with the silence, embrace that — nothing’s wrong with two people who are content just being in each other’s company.
However, since you said it freaks you out, I would check in with him and ask if there’s something bothering him. I strongly believe in intuition and gut instincts, and if you feel like something is up with him during these long silences, something is probably up. But you won’t really know until you ask directly. I’d just go with a straight-shooting question like, “Do you notice we don’t talk as much? I’d love to talk more” (if that’s what you want, of course). Expressing your concerns to him and opening up the conversation are steps in the right direction, especially if you do it in a way that avoids criticizing or blaming and instead opens up room for a discussion. However, be prepared for him to say “I’m fine” and accept his answer — maybe everything’s totally cool, he just doesn’t have anything to say right then!
I’d also express what your own relationship to talkativeness and silence is to him so he knows where you’re coming from. For example, if you grew up in a home where silence meant something bad was about to happen, or people bottled up their emotions all the time, it would be useful for him to know this so he gets why you’d like to talk more.
Similarly, I’d recommend that you start conversations in moments of silence. It’s both people’s responsibility in a relationship to communicate and keep things fresh, so if you’re feeling like your conversational connection is lacking or those moments of silence are freaking you out, it’s a good idea to take responsibility for creating the communication you desire instead of waiting for it to happen on its own. Coming up with a list of potential topics you want to discuss together and making sure you’re responding to him in ways that move the conversation forward can be great ways to keep your communication up. If he’s still not biting and gives you the silent treatment, you may want to reconsider whether someone who falls short of your communication needs is a good partner for you.
I’m not saying you’re a bad couple because you’re not talking constantly — plenty of couples have both a silent and a talkative person in them — but it’s still food for thought.
I’m seeing this girl who I like, but I hate her dog. She’s also super irresponsible with it, and refuses to get it trained. It’s driving me crazy — is there a solution here, or should I move on?
Well, this is literally me. I’m the one with the really naughty dogs, and my boyfriend is not a fan. In fact, he even barred me from taking them on our latest vacation to Big Sur (when they had a puppy care facility on property!).
But he isn’t breaking up with me over it (at least not yet). He just thinks we need to find a solution. From the conversations I’ve had with him, though, I can tell he really means business about it. Actually, once he expressed to me how much it truly bothered him, I’ve made every effort to seriously train my out-of-control pups. Because I want my man to be comfortable with my dog children, I’ve now become so motivated to make sure Bambi and Cinderella go potty outdoors that it’s almost irritating.
So give her a chance to do better. Have a talk with her, but come at it from a place of empathy and understanding rather than accusation or anger. Once she knows how much it annoys you and what’s at stake if she doesn’t train her dog, she will mostly likely step up her fur-baby momma game. After all, you’re not really asking for something that outlandish — training dogs is a responsible way to care for them and make sure everyone can cohabitate peacefully.
Since you’re the one with the problem, though, I’d recommend taking an active role in creating a solution by helping your partner train her dog, doing a little research on the topic yourself and giving her a supportive — read: not critical or controlling — nudge in the right direction. Maybe even sign up for group classes at a place like Petco and go together. Most importantly, communicate with her about how much it means to you that she’s taking this step. She’s making a behavioral change (and probably a financial investment) for you, so make sure she feels acknowledged and appreciated. I love positive affirmation, so once she’s trying to get her dog under control, bring her flowers or chocolate (or whatever she likes) to show how much it means to you.
Besides, it’s in your best interest to put in this kind of work — according to a 2017 study by the Journal of Scientific Reports, having a dog might make you live longer and lower your risk of heart disease. So, you’re welcome.
However, if you find that you’ve put in that kind of effort to help her be a better dog parent and her dog is still bothering you to the point of questioning your relationship over it, we may have a bigger problem. At that point, it all comes down to how much you can put up with and how worth it your relationship is to stay in. If your girlfriend is awesome, your relationship is strong and it seems worth the annoyance, you might be able to deal with it long-term. On the other hand, if this dog is such a problem that it’s ruined all the other good parts of your relationship — or if you were already questioning whether this person was right for you and the dog is just the cherry on top — then yeah, it might be time to look for greener, less poop-filled pastures.
I can’t get anyone to commit to me. I fall in love somewhat easily and am always certain of my feelings and what I want, but for some reason, the other person always flip-flops and ditches me before finding the love of their life immediately after we breakup.
I can definitely relate to that. Like many people, I can also get obsessed early on in a relationship, fall in love too quickly and scare the boys away. However, if I have my own hobbies, interests and responsibilities, it’s much easier to temper that early obsession — I’m simply too busy to care “too much” (as if you could ever quantify what caring “too much” is, but, you know what I mean).
So while I can’t totally read your situation without knowing more about you or the relationships you’ve been in, I will tell you one thing — you need to get into you. Everyone’s attracted to someone who has something of their own going on, who takes care of themselves, who has hobbies and who is clearly putting themselves first. In other words, if you’re looking to attract and retain someone, your first move should be to work on having the relationship with yourself that you want to have with someone else.
It’s a lot of work to invest that much time and energy in yourself, but it really pays off. For one, it gets you further ahead in your own life in terms of your health, goals and self-confidence. Two, it really is magnetic to others. Once you really start to focus on yourself and what you want out of life regardless of your romantic relationships, you’ll quickly see that people take more interest in you. True story — the way you think about yourself has everything to do with who you’re attracting into your life.
Not always being overly available is also attractive. My girlfriends and I have a running joke about how people can smell the desperation on you, and we’re not wrong! After all, we’re all just animals and we’re more perceptive than we give ourselves credit for. If you have energy that’s too clingy or needy, your dates will be able to detect that on you. So maybe give dating a break for a minute or two, and get busy working on yourself and your own needs.
Also, there’s some research that says traits like conscientiousness, kindness, emotional stability and the belief that relationships take dedication and work (as opposed to just being easy all the time) are qualities that most people desire in a partner. Essentially then, as you go about working on yourself, keep these things in mind as areas to focus on. Even if it doesn’t teleport your soulmate directly into your bedroom the moment you start working on them (you’ve got to give this stuff a minute), you can’t really lose by becoming a kinder, more emotionally stable and more conscientious person.
Win-win for you.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s column! Feel free to send me your sex, love and relationship questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!