Welcome to ‘Schitt’s Creek’ actor Annie Murphy’s sex and relationship column, Ask AnnieThing, where you, YES YOU, can ask her your most pressing life questions. This month, she tackles the L word
I’m six months into my first serious relationship and my partner told me he loves me, but I’m having a hard time returning the sentiment because I’m not sure that I feel the same way. I think I love him, but I’m confused because “love” seems so unquantifiable—plus I don’t have any other relationships to compare it to. Movies make such a big deal about getting butterflies and saying the big “I love you” while making out in the rain, but I’m not sure if that’s there for me. I really care about him, we have a lot of respect for each other and I really enjoy being with him, but I don’t know if I’m “in love.” How do you know you’re in love, anyway?
I’d been dithering about how to delicately answer this question, when Ewan McGregor swung onto my shoulder like a handsome, grinning, tuxedoed, monkey and yelled a quote from his turn as Christian in Moulin Rouge: “Love is a many splendored thing! Love… LIFTS us up where we belong! All you need is love!” Then, in a normal tone, he added, “Just answer the fucking question.” I was like, “Good call, Ew.” (That’s what I call him.)
So here it is: I don’t think you’ve fallen in love with your boyfriend yet.
I think this because I’ve had the great fortune of being in the spinning bingo cage that is falling in love. And though “I feel like I’m in a spinning bingo cage of love” is (somehow) not yet a cliché, I can assure you that ACTUAL clichés about falling in love exist for very good reason.
When you fall in love, you DO feel like there are pre-historic butterflies that have made a home for themselves in your actual body. You DO think about the person 143,000 times a day, because now even weird things like Brita filters and gum remind you of them. You DO get “ma’am-ed” at the grocery story because you’re 1,000 miles away, daydreaming about what it was like making out with this person in the rain. Or devising elaborate plans to make it rain, so you can finally make out in it.
Granted, I am speaking from my own personal experience, but I know I’m not alone. Over thousands of years, people have built castles, written books and plays and songs and poems, they’ve painted paintings, jumped out of airplanes, dressed up like something super dumb for Halloween, broken the bank, burned bridges, eaten sea urchin, gone to war, and probably even driven for billions of hours across deserts full of lava and snakes, because they’re crazy in love. The world is full of incredible proof that people have fallen in love.
ON THE OTHER HAND (and btw, there are way more than two hands here… we’re talking about love, mmkay?), I do very much believe that loving and falling in love can exist independently of one another. Love doesn’t always come in the form of dolphins leaping across the ocean’s horizon. Love can be found in companionship, love can develop over time and it can form out of necessity, proximity or familiarity. That’s one of love’s most wonderful characteristics—it comes in many shapes and sizes, and it can grow out of many things.
ON THE OTHER, OTHER HAND (I told you this was going to be a thing), if, after a bunch of months into your first serious relationship, you haven’t felt at least a few little wings punching around in your stomach lining, then something might be missing. And if it is, that’s okay. Sometimes a whole bunch of people come and go before Rachael McAdams and Ryan Gosling yelling about being birds and smooching around in the ocean starts to make sense.
Though it’s possible you might not find the feeling you’re looking for in this relationship, I can promise you one thing: you’ll know when you’re the equivalent of Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, swinging like a handsome, grinning, tuxedoed monkey, around a giant elephant-shaped outdoor lounge decorated like a Moroccan bazaar, while stars sparkle in the sky above.
Category: Ask AnnieThing
Q: I’m 22 years old and—yikes!—still a super virgin. I’ve tried dating through apps and have had no success because everyone seems to be looking for an “instant gratification” that I can’t give them. I feel so behind the curve. How do I date when everyone I meet expects to have sex right away? Should I feel badly for being a virgin when my peers are sexually active?
Well, hello and welcome.
Here is my short answer: No, no, NO. You should absolutely, positively not feel badly for being a virgin at ANY age.
Here is my long answer:
If this big, beautiful, overpopulated world can offer us one scrap of comfort, it’s this: the likelihood of you being the only person to experience, well, anything, is very, very unlikely. Therefore, I would put a large amount of money on the fact that when it comes to being a virgin later in the game, you are not alone!
Losing the oooool’ V-card (ugh, I’m sorry) means different things to different people. There are people who make mixtapes comprising mostly of Goo Goo Dolls and Enya, and wait and wait and wait for a rainy day when their parents aren’t home, then slap on some fairy lights and invite their longtime boyfriend over for “the big event.” (Why are you looking at me like that; that’s not MY story. OK it was me.) Then there are people, like one of my best friends, who just wanted to get it over with, so they had sex with one of their friends in a bathroom at IHOP. (Don’t worry, I’ve been assured that bathroom was one of the “bigger, cleaner ones.”)
If you’re one of those people who want to wait for a really special person to lose your virginity to in a really special way (which is great), do that. I know that in today’s world of Tinder/Grindr/Whatevr-style instant gratification, it can feel like all people are looking for is someone to have sex with RIGHT NOW BEFORE THEY JIZZ A HOLE IN THEIR PANTS. While this may be the case with some, there are also lots of people out there who are looking for something slower-paced and meaningful. Something that will ruin fewer pants. If you don’t mind waiting a little longer, I have a lot of faith that the right person will come along, and they’ll understand and appreciate where you’re at.
But if you’re one of those people that juuuuuust would rather. get. that. virginity out of the way (which is also great), do that. Maybe—like my friend—you have a person in your life that you’d feel comfortable having your first time with. Call ’em up! Tell them the sitch! If you’re both cool and comfy with said sitch, have a drink! Do the sex! Have a laugh! Or maybe you meet someone online that you vibe with. Go on a date! Tell them the sitch! If you’re both cool and comfy with said sitch, go on another date! Do the sex!
If none of this applies to you, and you’re totally happy being a virgin (which is also also great), stick with that. There are lots of fun, sexy things to do that don’t have to involve losing your virginity. Laser tag and handjobs, for example. Sally Jesse Raphael reruns and going down on each other. Sitting next to an untouched Scrabble board and touching each other’s boobs while listening to Shania Twain. The possibilities are endless!
Maybe NONE of this applies to you and you’re totally happy being a virgin who doesn’t engage in any sexual activity (which is ALSO GREAT), so do that. What’s important is that you’re being true to yourself and not being pressured to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Anyone making you feel otherwise can go for a long trot off a tiny diving board, as the saying goes.
Goo Goo Dolls and IHOP aside, the main point I’m trying to make is, don’t worry about being “normal.” Go at your own pace. Be honest about your virginity. Let things happen on your own terms. Losing your virginity doesn’t have to be “special” in the sense that you should spend 10 years crocheting a blanket upon which you shall be deflowered, but it certainly should be special in the sense that you are in control of, and comfortable with the situation when it happens. Go forth!!
Welcome to actor Annie Murphy’s new sex and relationship column, Ask AnnieThing, where you, YES YOU, can ask her your most pressing life questions. In this column, she takes on dating in the #MeToo era.
Q: I’m casually dating, and the conversations on my most of dates frequently turn to #MeToo. Some dudes say super problematic things like “not all guys are like that” and “men are being attacked.” Explaining why these views are offensive and wrong is exhausting. What should I do? I feel like giving up dating.
FIRST OF ALL, let me begin by using up some of my 500 words to thank you for being my very first question-asker in my very first advice column. Thank you. My hands are uncomfortably clammy and I feel mildly ill, as opinions these days (no matter how tame) always seem to be met with very loud shouts of: “I say we KILL the beast!!!” but liiiiiike…it’s also very important to have said opinions, despite the threat of pitchforks and meanies. So here we go.
DO NOT GIVE UP DATING, PAL! Think about all of the interesting people, and weird family stories, and good (and bad) kisses, and potential trips to the aquarium you’ll miss out on if you do. No giving up. There are fish to be seen.
I do, however, totally understand your frustration with statements from guys like, “men are being attacked.” It’s hard to hear things like that and not have the impulse to break down a wall with your face. Or rest your face in your soup. Or at least face-palm your face. I get it, because I too have face-palmed my face.
It’s been a real struggle (especially over the past year or so) to react to inflammatory comments with articulate and thoughtful offerings, as opposed to a nice, simple, knee-jerky “Are you F-CKING kiddddiinnnnggg me.” BUT I challenge you (and me, and whoever else might be reading this) to give it a try. Sit down with yourself and a tea or a wine, or some f-ckin’ chips, or whatever you need, and try to latch onto some thoughts you’d feel really proud of yourself for saying next time you’re faced with a “I feel like men are being attacked.”
IMHO (trying IMHO out for the first time, not sure if I like it), a lot of guys who are saying things like this aren’t saying it to incur the wrath of billions of women over thousands of years. They’re saying these things because they’re confused and a little scared. Because they haven’t taken the time to sit down with a tea or a wine or some f-ckin’ chips to figure out exactly what they want to say and exactly how they want to say it. This incredible social shift is a new experience for women AND men, and with new experiences come new thoughts and feelings and emotions, and yes, a lot of the time, some very short-sighted questions.
It should not be up to women to educate men on all things #MeToo. It should be up to everybody to educate themselves. That said, much education comes from discussion. Some of those discussions happen in schools, or in the workplace, or on the internet. And fortunately/unfortunately, some of them happen on a date, when you’d rather be talking about that time your cousin choked on a hotdog at the Westminster Dog Show.
These conversations—#MeToo, not #hotdog—are so, so, so, important, and for the foreseeable future, no matter how frustrating, we have to have them. Hopefully your next (more thoughtful and patient? less annoyed?) conversations will lead to dinner, and then maybe another date. Where you can talk about dog shows, and tropical fish, and your favourite kind of f-ckin’ chips.
Got a question for Annie? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at @FLAREfashion using the hashtag, #AskAnnieThing. She’s listening