Agony Uncle Paul Letham: Helps With Your Problems

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Rainbow Counsellor Paul Letham is here to offer advice. This month he answers the age-old question: how do I let a Grindr hook-up down if they don’t look like their pics?

Paul, help!

I have been trying to take more control of my life including meeting up with guys from Grindr – not just messaging into the night but never seeing them face to face. Some hookups have been great but others have been falsely advertised! Some are much older/fatter/shorter than their pics. Often they are confident and active, telling me to ‘get inside and get my clothes off!’ A few times I have gone through with it and felt awful afterwards. How do I tell them ‘I won’t be coming in’ without sounding like I am body shaming them?

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Mislead from Morningside.

Firstly, well done on your resolution to meet more people face-to-face. This takes considerable courage. It’s certainly easier to sit at home on your phone, but in the long term, this doesn’t get us very far in the dating world. One of the biggest irritations that I regularly hear regarding online dating is how it permits us to tell untruths about the stuff we’re sensitive about weight, age, occupation, and so forth. It’s obviously beneficial to be upfront about yourself and your expectations, but I understand that this can be kind of exposing. If you can find ways to do this, however, then you’re modelling to other people how you wish to be treated: respectfully, thoughtfully, and with integrity. You’re walking the talk. I wonder what you mean though when you say you feel awful after some hookups? Awful about what? I suspect it’s to do with what was perhaps unspoken or unnegotiated in that moment. More reason to be upfront, no? None of us wants to hurt the feelings of someone we’ve been friendly with online, but at the end of the day, if you’re suddenly not so keen on the proposed hook-up, then you’re perfectly within your rights to say no.

Hi Paul, 

I feel like my boyfriend and I are drifting apart. He has started to look at porn more and more and yet we seem to be getting less and less physical.
The last time we had sex, he couldn’t get hard, which had never been a problem before. He got through it by putting porn on, but I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. I certainly look nothing like the men on screen!
Part of me thinks he is getting addicted and that is causing our problems, but I also wonder if he is bored of me and if this is the end of our relationship. How can I judge if this is an addiction problem and what should my next steps be?

A relationship is not a self-sustaining organism, and being committed to someone is just that: a commitment to the daily work involved in nurturing the connection. This requires both partners to actively communicate their needs and concerns in direct yet compassionate ways. This takes practice! What might be going on for your partner right now? Often the first sign that someone is psychologically struggling is the development of an unhelpful habit: weed, porn, or shopping for instance. Difficulties with food, sleep, and sex can also develop and some people may begin to emotionally withdraw from their partner. You’re understandably worried about the relationship. Have you considered that his mood may in fact not be about you? He may also be well aware that he’s withdrawing, and feel somewhat powerless to prevent it. Be careful not to assume too much. One of the ways a relationship can end is when partners stop talking about their feelings. Your partner needs to know how you feel but clearly needs support here also. Gently enquire about what is on your boyfriend’s mind, with open curiosity, and go from there. In the end, he may need to enlist the help of a good therapist to make sense of his feelings.

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