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From the WebMD of Romance and Dr. Love.

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Love is a mystery, just like whatever's wrong with your toe. Luckily, the Arkansas Times has two specialists to break it all down: Dr. Love, our prescient, happily married, in-house expert. Is he a real doctor? No. But we created a fake Ph.D. from "Cupid University" on Microsoft Word, printed it out and had someone sign it. So, viola, he's an official authority on affection.Yet just giving out "good" advice felt ... incomplete. Most of us don't go to the doctor with our weird toe problem — we Google our condition and freak out. So, in that spirit, we also have advice from the WebMD of Romance, full of overreactions, misunderstandings and overreactions based on those misunderstandings.


What advice would you give to switches who need their switch partners to be more dominant at times?

Dr. Love: I assume you're not talking about the switches found in the electrical department at The Home Depot here, but "switches" in the sense of people who participate in power-exchange relationships who are sometimes dominant and sometimes submissive, right? OK, cleared that up, with the most gracefully inserted bit of stealth exposition ever. In relationships, as in synchronized pipe-bomb disarming, patience and careful, deliberate movements are key if you want to avoid being spread all over a wall like a Rorschach blot. That requires good communication. There is no substitute for talking to your partner about what you want, so your line is: "I think it would be really hot if you X, Y and Z'ed more in the bedroom." That said, remember that a partner is not a fetish gumball machine, and you can't just stick a dime in and get exactly what you want. Your partner is a person, and sex, from low-fat vanilla to rocky road with rainbow sprinkles, is something to do WITH a person, not TO a person. So ask, and explain. But if they're not into it — either now or longterm — don't reward their honesty with browbeating, pouting or hurt feelings.

WebMD of Romance: Switching (in case you did not read above) is the reversal (or switching, you might say) of roles in a power-exchange relationship — dominant becomes submissive or vice versa. If, in that switch, you need your partner to become more dominant, I think there is a simple solution: communication. Specifically, you should not communicate that desire — especially not in a calm way — and instead let it fester inside you. Bottle up that anger; let it pool; let it corrode you. Once that small problem with someone you dearly love has blossomed into a full-blown hatred for all their actions, allow something banal they do (like buttering toast or watching TV a little too loud) send you into an unnecessary rage. Yell about this random, normal act. Get, really, really, really mad. When your loving partner asks what the real problem is — so prescient are they, so kind are they, to know you wouldn't just yell about something so silly — you should lie. Say it's only about that one action. Don't bring up this thing about switching at all. After doing that, storm out. Go to a motel. Sit on the gray bed. Watch the TV with the sound off.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen inserted into someone?

Dr. Love: I ate a Double Down at KFC once. Does that count?

Can long distance dominant/submissive relationships work?

Dr. Love: Yes, but you need a really, really long leash. (Rimshot!) But seriously, folks, in this age of instant communication — when even the Tom Cottons of the world can find romance — of course they can work. Good, healthy d/s relationships are always more about the mind than the body, and the mind doesn't care if your partner is in the room or two continents away. When you can't be together, you just have to be creative with your mind games. That said, it's kinda inevitable that the junk may eventually overrule the mind, so get-togethers for face-to-face fun time will likely be required at some point if you want to make fantasy reality. If that happens: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

WebMD of Romance: No, but you should continue trying for a long time until it becomes that weird, shaky part of a relationship where you're dependent on each other but not in love anymore. Then, have a big fight and break up but keep getting back together every few weeks. When one of you visits the other's city, after seemingly finally actually breaking up, make sure to hook up in a way you both regret. Oh, and you should get jealous, too! Go all Othello and stalk online anyone who's in a photo with your lover. Wait: former lover? Wait: current lover? Wait: WHO IS THAT GIRL WITH HIM!? You get the idea.

When do you think sex education should start?

Dr. Love: Giving people advice on how to raise their kids is tricky, because most of it only applies to your kid, and the part that doesn't is probably bullshit learned from Jenny McCarthy. But in general, I'd say: While parents have been dodging Sex Talks with their kids since mastodons roamed Rose City, disregard that impulse and start early. Appropriate for the age level, of course, but early. Kids are naturally curious. By the time a kid is 3 years old, a parent will have heard more questions than Alex Trebek has in his entire career, and some of those questions will inevitably be about their bodies (your kid's body, not "Jeopardy!" contestants, weirdo). They want to know how they work, even the parts you might find embarrassing or weird to talk about, and they pick up on the fact that boy bodies are different thangirl bodies much, much earlier than you would ever imagine. If you, as a parent, meet those early, completely innocent questions with straight, age-appropriate answers, not only does it tell your kid his or her body isn't something to be ashamed of, it builds a foundation of trust about sexuality. If you can keep it up as they grow, that foundation of trust about The Sex Stuff will let them know: It's cool to ask mom or dad the much harder questions. The answers you give to those questions might just save your child's life, future prosperity or long-term health someday. Or, Plan B, you can follow my parents' sex ed example and just leave a lot of Betamax tapes of 1970s porn in a gym bag in the closet. I didn't know much about sex by the time I became an adult, but I can assure you I was very disappointed when I hit puberty and my body hair didn't come in like Ron Jeremy's.

WebMD of Romance: Sex education should start around 21 years of age, when your child takes their first sip of alcohol — having never experimented with sex, drugs or cursing before that moment. During that talk, emphasize that your child should always be ashamed of his or her body. Use adjectives like "gross," "fleshy" and "sinful." Make abundantly clear that sex is for reproduction — that any desire to have sex aside from reproduction is part of a demented, truly sick, lust. If possible, pass along a copy of St. Augustine's "Confessions." Convince your child that this level of guilt is healthy. Before 21, it's really up to you; it's your kid after all. But the WebMD of Romance recommends a policy of pretending sex does not exist. "How are babies born?" your child asks. Do not answer. Stare them down. "What?" you ask back. "Nothing, nothing," your child says. That blow to their self-esteem should help with the whole shame thing we discussed earlier. Double parent win!

Is sex vital for romantic relationships?

Dr. Love: It's complicated.

WebMD of Romance: Ew, no, you perv.


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