SSIS advice column

October 4, 2019

Welcome back to the Student Sexuality Information Service (SSIS) column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email ssis@brandeis.edu or leave a question in the Google Form link on the Student Sexuality Information Service Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid, or weird questions! 

(Note: These answers are good-faith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind, or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!)

I was addicted to masturbation as a young child, and the shame involved in that has shaped my adult sexuality in a really negative way. Also like… the compulsion aspect makes me nervous. I’m worried I will get addicted to sex. 

Believe it or not, this concern you have is not an uncommon one. It is rare as a society that we address adult masturbation, let alone child masturbation.  However, this does not mean that it does not happen or is even uncommon. Many children masturbate before they have any idea what it means or what they are doing. They simply discover that this one body part feels good when touched and may explore that manually or often by rubbing up against something like a rocking horse or a stuffed animal.  

Not only are you not alone for having had this compulsion as a child, as it’s a perfectly normal one, but you also are not alone in grappling with the shame surrounding it. A lot of our shame surrounding our sexuality comes from negative childhood experiences.  It then becomes tricky as an adult to step away from this shame and fully enjoy one’s own sexuality. A possible positive way to go about this is to experiment with masturbation in a healthy, safe environment in your adulthood. Feeling safe is different for every individual, but one possible way to explore your sexuality without crossing a line into which you feel that you are out of control is to set clear boundaries. These boundaries can be simple, such as making sure that you are in a private space while masturbating so as not to encroach onto others sense of security. Boundaries can also include making sure that you have finished all the projects and you need to complete within the day before engaging in sexual acts, so that you do not feel as though sex or masturbation is obscuring your day-to-day activities. Being able to remain within boundaries you set for yourself may allow you to regain that sense of control you fear in a sex addiction.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize that masturbation is normal and can be a really positive way to express self love. It is also normal to feel compelled to masturbate; this does not mean that anything is wrong with you, addiction or otherwise. As long as your masturbation is not a negative intrusion into someone else’s life or your own, then feel free to enjoy yourself.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a month. He just told me that he’s really into feet. How do I handle his weird fetish?

It is completely normal to be a bit perplexed when a partner discloses a new thing that they are into, no matter what the kink is. You may be unsure how to incorporate this new thing if you are into it or how to avoid it like the plague without hurting your partner’s feelings if you are not into it. It can be especially confusing when this kink is something new and a little more outside of the mainstream. However, there are a few things we can do when introduced to a new idea such as this one. A possible first step is to ask your partner more questions about it. If your partner is into feet does that mean that he likes looking at feet, or does he want to incorporate that body part into sex, or is this primarily a thing he enjoys in porn? Understanding some of the particulars may give you a better idea as to what his fantasy entails. In this step, it is important to keep in mind your partner’s feelings. Even if you are repulsed by this fantasy, it can be kind to not act disgusted by your partner. At SSIS we like to say, “don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” 

A second possible step is to then examine how you feel about this kink. Is this a hard no for you? If so you may want to communicate that to your partner, as you never have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. Or is there a bit of wiggle room? Are there some aspects of this fantasy that you may be willing to try? For example, maybe you are not comfortable with incorporating feet into sexual acts, but maybe you are comfortable with sending your partner pictures of a fresh pedicure. If this is something you want to explore, maybe you and your partner can discuss different ways to incorporate this kink.

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