Posted inColumns

Nice To Meet You, I’m A Slut!: Ask Me Anything!

TW: Eating disorders

Today is the day I deliver the ‘killer advice’ promised in my carefully curated google docs form! I loved reading through the various conundrums sent to me whilst pondering on ways to help – I’m only sad that I couldn’t answer all of the questions people had for me. I feel as though I’ve been for many coffees with many friends to discuss various dramas, but all in one sitting. For those of you whose predicaments I have addressed here, I hope that what I have said is helpful in resolving your romantic and/or sexual woes. All of what follows is written with (sometimes tough) love.

I have a crush on a guy who’s gotten with two of my very close friends before (nothing serious). I feel uncomfortable when they talk to me about him and I feel like they don’t respect my boundaries when I say I don’t want to hear about it. Am I in the wrong or do I have a right to be upset? How can I get over him since I know he’s not interested and it’s too complicated?

Hi! Oxford-life and the way everyone-seems-to-know-everyone can often lead to crossover situations; friends getting with friends/friends’ crushes/friends’ previous sexual partners. It can get pretty messy pretty quickly, so I fully sympathise with your situation. Even if it was nothing serious to your friends (even if they insist, “it’s not that deep”) they really should respect your boundaries – especially given that your feelings for this guy could be quite serious. You have a right to be upset and you have a right to really let your friends know that you’re not comfortable hearing about this. If they’re good friends, they’ll understand.

In terms of getting over someone who clearly isn’t reciprocating your affections: direct your attention elsewhere. Fundamentally, distraction is the best way to get over someone. Whilst it’s healthy to sit with your emotions, allow yourself to feel sadness – maybe wallow with some ice-cream and sad tunes, once you’re ready to move on, that means redirecting that energy you were expending on your crush into yourself, a new hobby, a new partner etc. Clear your former crush from your head and use that headspace to do whatever makes you happy!

Dear Alice, I am perpetually attracted to *bad* boys and just can’t seem to kick the itch. What is your advice for how to steer away from the temptation to get what I can’t and shouldn’t have.

We’ve all fallen victim to a ‘bad boy’ at some point in our lives – whether it’s an obnoxious softboi, a T*ry, or someone altogether problematic. Whether it comes from a masochistic place, an ‘I can fix him’ place, or someplace else entirely, it can be difficult to know why we fall for these toxic characters. There is no easy fix to this, but here are some pointers – food for thought – to mull over next time you find yourself wanting what you can’t and shouldn’t have.

1. THINK: “What would my (best) friends say?” Listen to your mates; they want you to be happy and an outsiders’ perspective is always useful when it comes to dubious crushes!

2. ASK YOURSELF why you feel compelled to text him, to ask him out for coffee, to expend energy on him. Is it really because you want to – does he spark genuine joy? Does he fill you with excitement or are those ‘butterflies’ really just nervous dread/anxiety?

3. REMEMBER (to quote Florence Given) “Stop raising him, he’s not your son.”

I think a lot of people have a bit of an internalised ‘saviour complex’ – we reckon we can fix people, or improve their behaviour, when really we should be focusing on bettering ourselves. Stop wasting time on men who add little-to-no value to your life. Focus on yourself. Queen shit.

How do you (you plural) fully let go to enjoy sex and take pleasure from it and just act freely and kind of go with the flow. Sex so often feels like a performance, how do I look doing this? Am I better than other women? Is HE enjoying this? I feel as if i am choreographing my actions in my head, getting nothing back and ultimately ending up with a dry vagina and boring 0-energy sex. Just want to be a free woman and stop curating myself for Male consumption ffs

Okay so this – THIS – is important. As a woman, constantly subjected to the male gaze, under perpetual scrutiny from the media as well as our own internalised patriarchal critic, it can be so difficult to let go of our carefully curated self-perceptions to simply enjoy sex with a partner. One thing I would recommend is getting comfortable having solo sex*, spending time with yourself exploring your body and experiencing pleasure beyond the male gaze. In doing this, you will remove the expectation to perform away from sex and refocus your brain on the – more important – pleasure-elements of sex. I understand it can take a while to feel 100% comfortable in your body and with your sexuality, but I promise it does come with time, patience, and kindness (to yourself). I hope this helps <3<3

*solo sex: a term I’ve borrowed from Ruby Rare (@rubyrare) who discusses masturbation in these terms as part of her redefinition of ‘sex’ more broadly.

My girlfriend isn’t keen on phone sex and we don’t send nudes or any media to each other. How can we keep the sexual chemistry alive until we can see each other intimately again?

As someone who has done long-distance in the past, I know the struggle of maintaining sexual chemistry from afar. If exchanging nudes isn’t an already tried-and-tested-but-failed method for the two of you, then I would recommend maybe having a ‘virtual date night’ maybe in which you each get “sexy” (shower, lingerie, mood lighting – whatever works for you) from your respective rooms and play around with camera angles – it doesn’t have to be super serious.

Failing that, the time and distance could prove an opportunity for each of you to consider things you might like to try out in the bedroom next time you’re together. It doesn’t have to be anything wild; it could simply be different positions to try out. These discussions can be a fun, but also pragmatic, way to engage intimately with your partner without explicitly having phone sex or exchanging nudes. It can help keep the fire burning – even if that’s mostly with excruciating anticipation, but I suppose that’s better than nothing.

Should I tell my boyfriend that I am bisexual? Do you think it is necessary? I’m not even sure if I am and don’t know how to figure it out, I just know that I get crushes on girls.

First of all, if you get crushes on girls then chances are you’re bisexual – which is wonderful! Welcome 🙂 <3

With regards to telling your boyfriend, I think having these discussions with people you trust/your loved ones can be an important step towards figuring out and feeling comfortable in your sexuality. I have bisexual (girl) friends who are in heterosexual relationships and their boyfriends have been really supportive of their coming-out – so there’s absolutely no reason why yours shouldn’t be too!

However, it is not necessary; you do not owe anyone this information and there is no obligation to come out to your boyfriend until you feel happy to. Realising you’re bisexual can be a long and complicated process for some (but not all); I first thought I liked girls whilst I was in a relationship with a guy, but dismissed the notion on the premise that I wasn’t going to ‘act on it’ since we were exclusive. Retrospectively, I wished I’d spoken to my boyfriend about it and allowed myself to identify as bisexual earlier on. Because being in a heterosexual relationship won’t make you feel any less bisexual, nor does it make you any less valid as a bisexual person.

TLDR; take your time – there’s no pressure to tell anyone anything – but definitely don’t be afraid to tell your boyfriend!

Hello, I am in recovery from an ED and am no longer underweight (!!!) … however with the weight gain has come lots of body confidence issues and I was wondering how best to continue to love myself and my new body!

Hello! Congratulations on your recovery !! I understand that experiencing changes in your body and learning to love your health body can be challenging – especially given how conditioned we are to dislike ourselves (so that we buy products that make us look/feel better). In a Raging Capitalist Society, such as ours, it’s a revolutionary act to love yourself. Like all revolutionary acts, it takes time and energy – and it’s rarely easy. Although I myself have never struggled with an eating disorder, I have experienced sudden weight gain in my transformation from unhealthy pernicious-anaemic-body to a healthy post-treatment body. At the time, I struggled to love my new thighs, bum, tummy, stretch marks etc. Obviously, my struggle differs in a number of ways to someone in your situation, but – coming from my own experience – here are some of the ways I learned to love myself:

1. Being Naked! Simply existing in my naked body in the privacy of my own room – non-sexualised and unperceived – helped me form a nicer, more wholesome relationship with my body as something that just exists. Sometimes this can involve staring longingly at myself in the mirror, or avoiding mirrors altogether – whatever I felt comfortable with at the time!

2. “We are all just cells.” Weirdly, remembering that my body exists not as an aesthetic object, but as an organic entity designed solely to keep me alive, helped me rationalise my new body as a good body. All our cells are working so hard to keep us energised and healthy! Our bodies are doing crazy shit at all times of the day – they deserve more credit for all their effort. They deserve rest and food and water.

3. FUCK CAPTILASM FUCK PATRIARCHAL IDEALS (whether that means ‘fuck toxic masculinity and the imperative to be muscular’, or simply ‘fuck the patriarchy and it’s dumb made-up idealised female body’) FUCK IT !!!!!

I hope at least some of this helps in your journey towards self-love and body-positivity! For when loving yourself feels like too much of an ask, I recommend this article by Eva Wiseman on ‘body neutrality’:


If anyone has any questions they’d potentially like unpacking in a future column, do not hesitate to drop them in the form:

Sadly, I cannot guarantee a nugget of wisdom in response to all of them as I only have so much time and so many nuggets. It’s been lovely hearing from people so far and I’ll be writing another ‘Ask Me Anything’ installation before the end of term! <3<3<3

With illustration by Emily Perkins (@emp3_art)