Anonymous Asks: Is it normal in a relationship for one party to grow to like the other party more than is being reciprocated?

Is it normal in a relationship for one party to grow to like the other party more than is being reciprocated? I feel like my bf of almost two years is way more into me than I am into him. I love the guy but is this just me being bored as we are no longer in our ‘honeymoon’ phase of a relationship? Or do I need to reasess and think about parting ways?
— Anonymous

Hey Anonymous,

I don’t know if I would describe this as “normal,” but I would definitely say this happens enough that you aren’t abnormal.

The honeymoon phase is a tricky little fucker. It’s almost like it sets people up for failure - a promise of a newfound relationship that will eventually not be quite like that. When it comes to that particular transition in a relationship, we ALL have to ask the question, “Okay, who are we now?”

If you aren’t feeling as satisfied as you think he might be, then it’s best to look inward instead of outward… meaning: don’t ask “what is it about him that’s leaving me unfulfilled, what is it about ME that’s leaving me unfulfilled?”

Instead of trying to figure out whether or not he is providing a, b, or c, try to figure out if you’re really even needing a, b, or c, or if you are an x, y, z, kind of guy, and whether there is a random r or a k in there. Get to know yourself better to understand what you need from relationship, why you need it, and if it’s even realistic? When you ask yourself these questions, write them down along with your answers. Pen-to-paper gives it a stronger hold in our brain.

Here’s the kicker though: often what we think we want is not necessarily what sustains a great relationship. You can say you want a guy with a good job who is adventurous and makes you laugh. But that doesn’t mean he will be a good communicator or empathetic to YOUR needs. So, as you ask yourself those questions, be as brutally honest with yourself as possible. Would you rather have the nice guy who is kinda blah, or the wild guy who is kind of a dick? Since all of us are different, there’s technically no wrong answer.

To me, the true sign of when a relationship has gotten so stale that it is worth walking away is when you feel like roommates rather than a couple. This is when the relationship is basically void of all intimacy. Some people think this is when the sex stops but I disagree with that. There is so much more intimacy that’s shared in a relationship than just sex. There are so many other things you’d do with a partner than you’d do with a roommate.

If you see things headed in this direction, either try and be the partner you’d like to have, or figure out how things can come to an end so you don’t waste each other’s time.

Best of luck,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Dennis Asks: Were you always comfortable being naked? If not, why?

I grew up Catholic, gay and what my mom used to call “husky” which I knew meant fat. So because of all that I had tremendous body shame until my 20s. Now like you can’t keep my clothes on. Question: were you always comfortable being naked? If not why? And do you differentiate between nude and naked?
— Dennis

Hi Dennis,

So glad you were able to overcome body shame and shed your clothes.  That's awesome.

Was I always comfortable being naked?  The answer is no.  In fact, I am still not always comfortable being naked now.  It just depends the scenario.  Sometimes it's easy for me.  Sometimes it's very difficult.  

Like you, I grew up with a lot of body shame.  Though, it may be different from yours as it wasn't due to any kind of religious or conservative thinking.  More so, I grew up in a house of women and it's the norm (unfortunately) for women to dislike their bodies.  So it wasn't that my family members shamed each other, my family members shamed themselves and I absorbed that mentality.

With that, I grew up with a deep rooted sense of body dysmorphia.  And for me, it will never truly go away.  I feel fortunate that I have over come 80% of  it.  But that 20% can still nag at me.  This is why I continue to strip down openly in front of the world... to help fight off that 20%, to not let it grow up to 50%.  The best way to overcome fear is to face it.

As for your last question of whether I differentiate between nude or naked, I don't think I have ever thought about it.  So, at this time, I use the terms interchangeably.  But something tells me you might differentiate (seeing as how you asked the question).  If that's the case, then I'd love it if you (or any of you reading this) would comment on this response and explain it.  I think it'd be fascinating.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Mike in DC Asks: How do you feel about social nudity? Regular activities, just done naked.

How do you feel about social nudity? Regular activities, just done naked. DC has naked yoga, naked happy hour(s), naked spas (not those kind), and even nearby naked campgrounds. I like it because I feel like a lot of social barriers (which we have in abundance) break down when you are literally laid bare. But is it something you have tried/enjoy?
— Mike in DC

Hola Mike in DC,

Oh my gosh, have I not done a good enough job at showing my love of social nudity? *insert laughing emoji with tears*  If I have not, then let me say that social platonic nudity is MY FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD (aside from my partner and my dog).

Naked yoga, naked hiking, naked spas, and naked house parties are just some of the ways I have gotten to enjoy social nudism.  At one point, I even organized games of naked dodgeball (not as dangerous as it sounds), and naked water polo (or a dumbed down version of water polo).  I haven't done a naked happy hour though - at least not at a bar.  That would be a blast.

Nudism has been a really big blessing (I hate that word) in my life.  It is the root of what caused me to open up and live transparently.  The pure physical freedom eventually went to my brain and gave me the desire for pure emotional freedom.

And based off what you have written, I need to get my naked ass to DC ASAP.

Thanks for writing!

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

 

Brad C. Asks: how do you deal with uneducated people, the ones that want to shame you and run for being positive?

I just love your blog. I really enjoy how you live your life so authentically, owning who you are.

My question is how do you deal with uneducated people, the ones that want to shame you and run for being positive? I meet more guys than I can count that are down for having a “good time”, right up until I tell them my status.

Trying to educate them doesn’t seem to work, so what is the best way to handle this? Not disclosing isn’t an option.
— Brad C.

Hi Brad C.,

First of all, I love that you consider "not disclosing" as "not an option."  With so many poz guys being undetectable and so many negative guys being on PrEP, some folks don't consider it necessary to disclose anymore.  I have a theory that when we stop talking about things, miseducation and stigma prevails.

I am not on the apps these days, unfortunately I am too busy for it.  But yes, I did encounter those kinds of guys who would potentially run away.  And yes, I did have a method on how to approach it.  It was a two prong approach where I combined empathy with one powerful fact that would draw them into actually discussing it - giving me that opportunity to educate them.

Empathy is so important when having disjunctures with others.  I mean... haven't we all misunderstood something and therefore misjudged it?  And when we have done so, how would we have wanted others to talk to us about it?  So when someone shoots me down for my status, I start off with saying something like "I understand it sounds freaky," or "I understand why you feel hesitant" - something like that.

If you follow that up with TOO much education, then the person is most likely to check out and run.  That's why I do the "one big powerful fact."   Everyone may have a different opinion on what might be the best fact to pitch.  For me, I would follow up my empathy statement with something like: "But for your safety, just know that you are actually at a higher risk of contracting HIV by trying to avoid poz guys."

This usually bated most guys into the discussion.  Sometimes it didn't.  But it made me feel better knowing that I could implant that fact into their brain and hopefully change the trajectory of their sex practices.  

If they ran away before I could say anything, then I cope with it by reminding myself that if they were THIS uneducated (and too scared to get educated), then what's the chances that they are getting tested regularly and keeping others safe?  They could unknowingly be harboring STIs that could pass on to me.  Plus that kind of attitude isn't sexy to me.  They did me a favor by not letting me accidentally have sex with a douche bucket.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

 

Riley Asks: Have you ever been to a bath house and what was it like for you?

Have you ever been to a bath house and what was it like for you if so?
Can you just watch and do more of a “solo” rather than “mess” with other people if you don’t feel comfortable?
Regarding the last question, what was your first experience with a guy like?(Hope that’s ok to ask) I’m 22 and still a virgin and it feels like everyone had sex years ago and feel like I’m caught between social pressure/hormones and wanting to find someone I feel comfortable with and can take it slow and enjoy even the silly moments the come along with it. Definitely feel like I’m in between a rock and a hard place especially with all these dating apps and people are only on for what seems to be a hook up and not a genuine relationship :/. Would appreciate any advice :)
— Riley

Hi Riley,

Whew this is a lot of questions all in one.

First off, yes I have been to bath houses many times.  In the end, they aren't quite my thing.  That's not a judgmental statement as I do still occasionally go - maybe like once or twice a year.  For me, I like sex to brew naturally - either from sexual tension with a friend or spontaneously and unexpected.  To me, going to bath houses or hook up off apps often times feels forced.  It also feels like I am on a mission and if that mission fails then I am SUPER disappointed.

Most people in bath houses tend to go to private rooms rather than play out in the open.  But if they do play in the open, you can certainly watch.  I just recommend not trying to join in unless given an obvious signal to do so.  I have a bit of an exhibitionist side (shocker, I know) and I enjoy it when people watch.  But when they just decide to reach a hand in there without my consent, it's very frustrating.

So know that if you decide to go just have fun solo with yourself, at some point, someone may feel like it is an invitation when it really isn't.  Therefore it is a good idea to have something in mind - a blanket statement - that you can say if they try to randomly join in your fun.

As for my first experience with a guy, well that is an incredibly long story that I don't have time to tell here.  Also, I kind of would like to save it for a book chapter down the road.  This isn't me avoiding transparency.  It just isn't the right time or space for it.  But I will say that it was a spontaneous brief encounter in a public place and it was a wonderful experience for me.  I didn't know the guy and I never saw him again.  But I will always be grateful to him for providing my first experience which helped me ensure my attraction to men.

When it comes to your being a virgin, don't do anything if you aren't sure about it.  When having sex, your hormones change dramatically after it's done.  This post hormonal shift can contribute to feelings like guilt.  So chances are, if you weren't sure to begin with, chances are you might regret it being your first experience afterwards.

My best recommendation is to NOT do a hookup over the apps as your first experience.  App hookups are weird.  Like I said above, it can easily feel forced which, to me, isn't as fun if it comes naturally.  And frequently the person you meet isn't quite how you imagined them from the profile.  That can make the energy wonky too.

If you are using the apps, then use them to make a new friend - someone you can feel comfortable with and take it slow with and enjoy silly moments.  I don't think it necessarily means it has to be a boyfriend.  But let it be someone you appreciate and who appreciates you back.  My first time being a spontaneous adventure isn't the right route for everyone.  Based on how you phrased everything in your question, doing it this other way sounds like the right speed for you.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

 

Bill I Am Asks: how did our current generations come to find hiv as desirable like a membership to an exclusive club? Is this something you have seen?

Back in the 80’s and 90’s I was witnessing the slaughter of people through the Aids crisis. I was a young tween when I saw the first news article on 60 minutes. The intro stated “a new fatal disease striking gay men”. I watched what I could and of course was frightened to death. Here I was just barely dipping my toes into the waters of rainbow land when misinformation was smeared in my gullible face. I will admit that aids was a big reason why I stayed in the closet alot longer. Then as we know, druggies and hookers were thrown into our overflowing test tube as the cause of this horrible disease. Then as life went on, I started meeting people with hiv. Then came the time where I encountered men who touted their status as they would a medal. I, myself lost an Uncle to aids as well as a former love. I have some friends who are positive and I learned very fast that they do not want sympathy as if it is a death sentence. Simply because it no longer is.

After all of that being said, how has it become a percieved prize for non positive people to seek out and some positive people be willing to infect others? I myself found my path heading down the road of being “knocked up” or “pozzed” during some very rough years in my life. I don’t know if I had survivors guilt or what. But my question is, how did our current generations come to find hiv as desirable like a membership to an exclusive club? Is this something you have seen?
— Bill I Am

Hola Bill I Am!

I have indeed encountered a few "bug chasers" in my time and, with each one, it was very hard on me psychologically.  How can this person want the very thing that completely shattered my life? These requests often left me feeling hurt and confused.  But in my hunt for a more transparent and empathetic life, I set out and tried my best to understand it from their point of view.

Of course, the idea of intentionally seeking HIV infection has got to be something so utterly personal, that it's hard to throw blanket reasons over this minor trend.  I can only list a couple ideas that I've come to learn, but I can't cover all of it.  Therefore if any bug chasers read this, I would love it if they commented below to help others understand it even better.

I've often heard people chase because they feel it is an inevitable part of their journey - perhaps as a gay man and/or as someone who absolutely cannot do condoms.  So, they seek it out as a way to get it over with and also have some sense of control in the matter.  They feel they will already contract HIV at some point, so they might as well get to be the one to decide when, where, how and with whom they get infected.  This way they have some say rather than always wondering when it happened and who it happened with.

Another reason I've come to understand is that there is a strong sense of community or brotherhood behind being positive. Guys who have an internal desire to be a part of a very specific community might chase HIV in order to obtain that sense of community.  I have to admit, anytime I meet someone else who is positive, I do feel a unique connection with them as though we understand a little part of each other in a unique way.  It does feel communal.  So, for some, getting HIV can bridge that connection to community.

A third reason I've heard (and have been approached for) is more the "gifting" idea - a specific way to have someone special always be a part of you.  The person who approached me from this point of view again felt their diagnosis would be inevitable.  They also found the risquéness of it to be erotic - like the taboo of any fetish.  But in the end, they held me in a high regard and wanted to have a piece of me be with them for always.  And they wanted me to do this via passing on my virus to them.

Again, psychologically this wouldn't have been a great experience for me.  I would have also needed to gone off of my meds and let my suppressed virus come back.  That would put me at a small risk of my virus mutating to my medication.  So, in the end, I told them 'no.'  

Hope this provides a little insight

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Gymphobic Asks: What advice do you have for joining a gym?

I’ve managed to lose a considerable amount of weight without hitting the gym (change of diet and heaps of walking). But now I’m at the point where I want to build some muscle. So my question is: What advice do you have for joining a gym?
— Gymphobic

Dear Gymphobic,

Well first off, congrats on losing the weight.  That's incredible and should have you feeling like a total bad ass.  Harness that energy to move past your gym phobia so that you can hit the weights!  It's an exciting time!

So, whatever you do, do NOT join Planet Fitness.  They market themselves as a "safe gym" with a "judgment free zone" by shaming meatheads (Never understood how you can offer a judgment free zone by judging another group of people).  Because of their "safe" atmosphere, they actually hold you back from achieving much in the way of body building.  They mostly have machines and the free weights don't go very high in weight.

They also provide guests with free pizza and bagels: the two WORST foods for people trying to lose weight or gain muscle.  And it is like the blind leading the blind there.  If everyone there is being safe, then how you can learn from watching anyone else?  Besides (I say this all the time), who ever achieved greatness by playing it safe?

Alright, now that I have gotten that out of the way...

So first and foremost for those feeling intimidated by the gym, spend the extra money on an upscale gym.  I know this sounds weird, but you're not going to get a lot of intimidating meatheads at an upscale gym.  Meanwhile there will still be plenty of dedicated fitness folks to feel encouraged by.  Plus upscale gyms tend to not get AS crowded during primetime hours than at your standard run-of-the-mill gyms.  

Also. upscale gyms have nice amenities that make it feel rewarding to have a good workout (steam room, sauna, whirlpool, towel service, etc).  Shop multiple upscale gyms to see which one is right for you.  Most will give you a free pass.  

If you cannot afford an upscale gym, then pretty much any gym will do - chain or family.  Just make sure it isn't a specialty gym - like one that focus on boxing.  Though I've known people who have gone to boxing gyms and didn't box and still did what they needed to do.

I go to 24 Hour Fitness and it's not the best and it's not the worst.  But I'm still able to weightlift without any problems.  Yes, you will encounter more meatheads at a gym like this.  But truly, I promise you, they aren't judging you.  They don't care what you're doing.  They care more about what they look like in the mirror.  Trust me, I worked out with one for two years.

Again, when it comes to any gym... shop around.  Have them give you a free pass.  Some will even give you a free week.  While doing your free gym trials, focus more on the environment than your workout.  You can focus on your workout once you join.  For now, see if the energy is right for you.

When you do find your gym, feel free to come back and ask some tips on gaining muscle.  It's a very different beast than losing weight.  I've got your back, even if I have no idea who you are.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Big Country: I have been talking to someone over 3 months now and things are going good. But how can I take it to the next level with him?

I have been talking to someone over 3 months now and things are going good. But how can I take it to the next level with him? He cares for me so much and we are sync with each other. Need advice on this.
— Big Country

Hey Big Country,

This question is a little vague.  Have you literally JUST been talking (like chatting online)?  Or have you been hanging out in person for those three months?  "Taking it to the next level" can mean very different things in either scenario.  Either way, I think it is about finding the right balance of saying you'd like to move forward without moving at full speed ahead. 

For instance, if you've just been talking, don't suggest meeting up for an incredibly romantic date - no tunnels of love or any of that (do they even make those anymore?).  You can suggest a casual meet up for coffee.  Or if you want to be really impressive, try to think of something more original - a unique activity that can still lend itself to good conversation (think "Monster truck rally" or something).  

If you've been hanging out and want to be exclusive, don't necessarily tell them you'd like to be exclusive by telling them you are in love.  This doesn't mean you're avoiding transparency or vulnerability.  Actually, in order to be transparent, it's good to recognize the fact that these feelings of love are coming from all the Oxycontin and other butterfly chemicals that are flooding your body for this guy.  

Instead, I suggest saying something like this.  "So, I've really been enjoying spending time with you and where things have been going.  I can't speak for you, but, at this point, I'm not really interested in seeing anybody else. How are you feeling about things?"

Saying it this way definitely still conveys that you are super into the person.  But it's casual enough that it doesn't sound like you are ready to plan a wedding.  It also honors the fact that they may not be on the same page as you.  Then it invites them to open up about how they feel.  

You may not get the response you want so it is scary.  That's what still makes this a very vulnerable thing to do.  But if you'd like to move forward, then you must be proactive.  Nobody achieved anything great by being passive.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger 

Chip Asks: I'm guessing those close to you know you like to be bare-assed. How do they feel about that? Is it ever awkward? What's their reaction?

Hi Scott, first of all, feel free to edit this when you post it. It won’t hurt my feelings at all. You speak freely on your blog about being a nudist, so I’m guessing your friends and those close to you know you like to be bare-assed. How do they feel about that? Is it ever awkward for you or them? How did you tell them and what was their reaction? I know you don’t answer for Luke, but may I ask him if he’s a nudist as well. It’s fine if he/you choose not to answer. I love your blog Scott, thanks for sharing with us!
— Chip B.

Hi Chip,

First off, thanks for the blog love and for this super fun question.  Exploring nudism has been such a blessing (I hate that word but it's true) for me.  It has helped me grow and accept myself in many ways all while doing activity in a way that makes life feel vibrant and exciting.  

So, when I discovered nudism, I never really went in "the closet" about it.  I was so exhilarated by the experience that I told all of my friends right off the bat.  It was a "You'll never guess what I did..." kind of thing.  They didn't feel awkward so much as they felt fascinated.  Their eyes would grow like saucers in curiosity.  

I didn't tell my family that I was going to nude events, but a point came when I talked on Facebook about attending nude yoga classes and posing nude for art classes.  My family eventually caught on and teased me in a playful but affirming way (I've always been the rainbow sheep of the family so it didn't blow their minds too much).  

My mom is particularly funny.  Anytime we talk on the phone and I mention yoga, she asks "Is it naked yoga?" and then giggles.  While on a family vacation a couple years ago, we were on a beach and there was a joke sign that said "naked beach."  She said, "Scottie!  Go stand behind that sign so I can take a picture!"

I now talk so openly about my love for nudism, and all the positives it has done for me, that, in my city, I am known as "that naked guy."  I've built a reputation on it and I am proud of that.  I constantly invite people to go naked hiking with me.  Some take my offer.  Some don't.  But those who do are always glad they did.

For some of my friends (gay and straight), the amount of skin I show on Instagram had gotten to be too much.  They unfollowed me (some apologized for it), but it didn't bother me (too much).  It's all about respecting people's boundaries.  If they don't want to see my body, they shouldn't have to.  Meanwhile, I am honored by the friends (especially the straight friends) who continue to follow me on Instagram.

As for Luke, he is absolutely NOT a nudist.  He gave the naked recreation a fair shot sometime after we had met and decided it wasn't for him.  It's rare this happens.  But sometimes it will and that's okay.  I'm just proud of people who work up the courage to give it a try.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Michael Asks: My husband and I explored a 3some and now are looking into a triad relationship. Any advice?

My husband and I explored his fantasy of a 3some now since we both enjoyed the encounter we are looking into a triad relationship. We have a very stable 7yr relationship and rather than “play” randomly with various partners we want a regular stable partner....any advice, suggestions etc?
— Michael

Hi Michael,

Wait... I am a little confused.  Do you want a stable play buddy or an actual third person to create a full on polyamorous relationship?

If you're just looking for a steady play buddy, then my advice would be to find someone who makes you both feel equally attractive.  Threeways are great.  But the moment the couple feels like one person is getting more attention than the other, the whole thing can tank.  And that could happen.  So don't feel bad if it tanks.  The time has come to move on and find a different play buddy.  

I also recommend still using some form of protection - whether it be condoms or PrEP.  If your goal of having steady play buddy is to avoid STDs, you should still be realistic that your play buddy will have sex with others outside of you two.

Now... if you meant that you indeed want a full on relationship with a third person, well, that's a whole other ball game. I would say for justing having had your first threesome, slow down a bit.  Enjoy the new playful nature that you and your partner just discovered for your relationship.

In the end, I have never been in a triad so it's hard for me to know how to advise one.  But by observing several of my friends who have had triads, it seems like you'd receive the same advice for the standard dual couple... just x3.

To me, they cornerstones of a good relationship are communication and humility.  So for three people, you must communicate clearly in all directions.  And you must be able to have humility with more than one person in a magnitude of scenarios.  I imagine it is a lot of work.  But if you find the right guy, it could be worth it.

When I saw your question, I showed it to a good friend of mine who is currently in a triad.  He is dating this couple who has been together for 11 years (I think).  They call each other "husband."  My friend calls them his boyfriends.  And I am assuming they call him their boyfriend.  Anyway... where was I going?

OH YEAH! So I asked him what advice he'd give to you.  He said this: "Don't go looking for it.  If this is something you want, let it find you."  I knew what he meant as this is advice I often give to people when it comes to the standard norm of dating.  If you are on a mission for something, there is an increased chance that you could force something that isn't a good fit.  And I could see how this could be extra volatile when it comes to three people instead of just two.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

 

Sex Positive Asks: Being in an open relationship has been a blessing. Any advice on coping with envy?

Being in an open relationship has been a real blessing at this point in life. Any advice on coping with envy? (Distinctly different from jealousy.)
— Sex Positive

Hello Sex Positive,

Ah, finally... a question that doesn't require a whole book to answer (just one chapter).

I love that you specified envy vs jealousy.  Jealousy is the most common question that comes up when it comes to open relationships.  People don't often ask about envy.

Though "coping with envy" is a bit vague.  So, I am going to make an assumption (which I hate to do).  I'm assuming that you ask due to being envious of when your partner hooks up with someone that you wanted to hook up with, or that they get hit on more often than you.

My partner and I have experienced this a few times.  He and I are VERY different types so it's happened on both sides that someone we equally liked only pursued one of us.  

When my partner hooks up with someone I would have wanted to, I do feel a small smidge of envy (envy is measured in smidges in case you didn't know).  But this is what I keep in mind to combat that envy: the reason I am in a relationship is to enrich my partner's life, not for him to enrich mine.

I admit that my partner does a better job of this philosophy than I do (he enriches the fuck out of me).  Still, when it comes to him hooking up with someone that I wanted to, I keep this philosophy in mind and cheer him on, which then makes him feel extra sexy about it. Maybe I even give him a high five.  I want to use that envy to congratulate and be excited for him because seeing my partner happy is far better than any hook up.

I also might make him give me the details so I can live vicariously through his experience.  Part of the joy of being in an open relationship is getting to feel turned on by the idea of your partner being with someone else.  So, when he describes it to me, it's hot to imagine him with this guy that i lusted after too.

As for the times where he gets more attention than me, I cheer him on then as well.  And then I step back and think "Yup, I have a hot man."  When guys give him lots of attention, instead of feeling envious, it gets me excited to think how, at the end of the night, I get to be the one he spoons with.  It feels wonderful.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Anon Asks: Going from body insecurity to authenticity is a long journey. What are some small steps someone could take?

Going from body insecurity to authenticity and transparency is a long journey. What are some small, manageable steps that someone could take to make progress without feeling like they have to jump in all the way?
— Anon

Hi Anon,

Holy crap, what is it with you amazing bastards asking questions so incredible, that they all require books?!  Thanks for the great question.  However, I don't think you are going to like my answer. 

Not to sound like a motivational speaker, but when has anyone gotten somewhere incredible by "taking small steps?"  If you want to change this aspect of your life, you have to think (and do) BIG!

I like to compare it to going for a swim.  You can slowly tiptoe your way into the pool which takes longer and is still fairly uncomfortable.  Or you can just say "fuck it" and just jump in.  The initial shock is only slightly more uncomfortable than taking baby steps.  Yet you acclimate and get to the fun faster.

I jumped into the pool by going through with attending a nudist party (this story will be in my book).  I was completely uncomfortable and self conscious about my body.  I legitimately almost passed out when I entered the door.  

It also happened for me when I got HIV.  I guess the analogy for that would be more like someone shoving me into the pool.  And while I don't want you to go get HIV or go through something else horrific to motivate change in your life, I must honor the fact that nothing is more of a motivator to love yourself well and be authentic like a traumatic experience.

IF YOU MUST TAKE SMALL STEPS:

First, make a list of the things YOU need to do in order to get to a place of body security, authenticity, and transparency.  Only you know what is holding you back so truly you have to come up with these on your own.  Some suggestions might be: take your shirt off in public once a week (at a park with friends or something during summer), go to coffee with a friend and tell them a mild truth about yourself (you can work your way up to the bigger truths later), and practice self love rather than self hate. 

When it comes to examples like the first two, make a bonus list of the things you worry might happen vs the things that will most likely (realistically) happen.  For example, with the "shirt off" scenario, it might look like "people will throw tomatoes at me" vs "No one will give a shit."

Don't overwhelm yourself by doing it all at once (unless you want to jump in the pool).  Just try one thing at a time until you get comfortable with THAT thing.  Then move on to the next thing.

As for self love, do that every day.  Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friends.  Would you tell your friends hateful things about their bodies?  So then... why would you tell yourself that?  Honor the fact that, when your friends see you with your shirt off or your being honest, they do not say the negative things that you might be telling yourself.  Honor that they love you the way you are.  And take this as a lesson to do the same.  

Saying negative things to yourself literally does no good for our minds, our bodies, or our soles.  It's not even a good motivator for change.  It just makes us depressed and puts us in a cycle of negative thinking.  Life is too short for that.

But telling yourself positive and loving things does wonders for our spirit and outlook.  And it can still be a motivator for change.  It's okay to say "The way I look is perfectly fine.  And it would be exciting to look this way too."

In the end, all of this is within our hands.  The journey is only as long as we make it.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Brent Asks: Any advice for someone who just started blogging? How do you keep inspired to write?

Any advice or tips for someone who just started blogging and wants to grow and build there blog? How do you keep inspired to write ?
— Brent

Dear Brent,

Oh, jeepers that's another question I could write a whole book on.  Here's the best rundown I can give to starting and growing a blog.

1. Decide on a theme or nitch for the blog and brand it around that theme.

2. Find the right webhost for you (ie. wordpress, squarespace, wix, etc).  If you want google search to generate you in their results, do NOT use free webhosts like tumblr or blogspot. Then build your page to fit your theme.

3. Decide on a posting schedule.  Don't just post whenever you feel like it or happen to have an essay done.  Having a regular posting schedule can keep you dedicated and your audience engaged.

4. Keep your posts to a consistent length so readers know what to expect.  I also don't recommend making posts too lengthy.  This is the internet.  People want it fast.  I probably push my limit with 1,500 - 2,000 words.

4. Start an email list so your readers can subscribe.  I use mailchimp.  It's free up to 2,000 subscribers and then the price sky rockets from there.  You can tell that mailchimp does not give me a kickback to recommend them because I'll say right up front that, once you get a large audience, it is stupidly expensive and they enrage me for it.

5. Give people a reason to subscribe.  Subscribing means people are giving you their information so they rarely do it, even if they love your work.  So give people an incentive to subscribe (i.e. an ebook or something).

6. Use social media and collaborate with other bloggers.  One of my most favorite things about blogging is that our fellow bloggers aren't competition, they are our co-workers.  We help each other out.  We feature each other's work and promote each other and collaborate.  

As for how I stay inspired to write... this does get tough.  Sometimes I think "If I write one more blog post I'm gonna vomit on my keyboard."  But my nitch is "life uncensored" and life keeps fascinating the fuck out of me.  Most of the time I just write freely and whatever comes out comes out.  Other times it's like a car stalling.  I remember that not every post is going to be a home run and that's okay.  This is a career/hobby of choice so... if it's not fun, then why do it?

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Michael Asks: How do you make an open relationship work?

I hope this isn’t too personal. But how do you make an open relationship work? What kind of rules do you and your partner set for each other?
— Michael

Hi Michael,

This made me laugh.  The whole point of this blog is to get personal.  So absolutely this question is great.

Authors have written whole books on open relationships and surely, in my experience, I could do the same.  So it is hard to do it justice in a simple answer.  But I will do my best.

1. We have a solid foundation.  Before we went open, we spent a year being monogamous so that we could build a solid foundation for the relationship.  A relationship is like a house.  And like houses you can change walls and make additions.  But before you can do any of it, you have to have a solid foundation or it will crumble.  Once we had our foundation in check, we felt safe to start exploring.

2. We went to a couples therapist.  We found a therapist who specialized in sexuality and she did an excellent job with us.  I wanted open and my partner didn't and we had to hash it out for a solid year before we felt comfortable opening up.  The therapist guided the conversations and called us out when we fought dirty.  Starting off our relationship via seeing a therapist was a brilliant idea that made our foundation as solid as a rock.

3. We developed rules and didn't set them in stone.  At first we developed lots and LOTS of rules to make sure we felt safe in our explorations.  We couldn't play more than once a month.  It couldn't be with someone we knew.  We couldn't kiss.  Etc.  But we also learned not to set these rules in stone because, as we get comfortable, our rules may evolve and take new shape.  None of the rules that I just mentioned currently exist because our comfort level grew over time.

4. We developed a safe language.  This feels really silly but it helps.  It is fairly awkward to let your partner know when you've had sex with other people.  So in order to help us be honest and keep the discussions going, we wouldn't say "I had sex with someone."  Instead, we would say, "I used a coupon."  This made it way easier to talk openly about our encounters.

5. We did NOT do "don't ask/don't tell."  DADT Style works for some couples.  But most often I have seen it blow up in their faces.  Ignorance tends to not be bliss when it comes to our partner's sex life.  When we don't have information, we can invent terrible things in our heads. And avoiding the conversations actually takes away the best part of being open: the ability to develop a new sense of trust and talk about ANYTHING!  By always disclosing our sexual encounters, my partner and I developed a profound and deep sense of trust in one another.  We knew we would tell each other the truth even if it was tough.  It also made us feel like we could tell each other more difficult things and resolve it like mature adults.  With DADT style, you don't necessarily reap those benefits.

Hope this sheds some light.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

 

Ruon Asks: Do you ever visit Toronto? If yes, would you meet up with people (fans) for coffee, tea?

Hi Ruon,

I have never been to Toronto but, God I have always wanted to visit.  If I had my way, I would just do one giant road trip across Canada!  If the time comes when I earn a decent living as a writer, then I would love to travel up that way.  Perhaps if a publisher pays me handsomely, I could do a book tour.

Aside from day dreaming about book tours, the answer to your other question is yes, I love getting to meet up with people and fans.  Without you all, I am nothing.  Seriously.  I have learned that, while I am the person packaging and producing all of this Bare Ink stuff, it is the people who enjoy it and support it that are making it a legitimate thing.

The flip-side to this is that it has become incredibly tough to meet people individually when I travel.  So, what I might start doing is, when traveling, I might designate a specific afternoon at a specific time at a specific coffee shop where I will be.  Then anyone who wants to come chill and hang out and chat, then c'mon on down and let's get our transparency on!  I love the idea of finally getting to hear all of YOUR stories.  

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Anonymous Asks: How did you come out to your parents? What was it like?

I am still in the closet but I want to come out..how did you do it? How was it like telling your parents? I am scared and nervous but wish to do this because I hate lying to myself
— Anonymouse

Hi Anonymous,

So the way I came out was very a uncommon and unique (and unfortunate) circumstance.  Not to sound like a broken record, but the full story will be in my upcoming book.  Actually that chapter is the longest chapter which currently clocks in at over 10,000 words.  I'll need to do some editing on that one.

Anyway, I won't go into full details here, but at age 17, I was basically forced out of the closet to my parents.  It was awful.  Prior to that , at age 15, I did come out (on my will) to my oldest sister (12 years older).  She had always been like a third parent to me.

That did not go well either.  She was not prepared for this information and just felt I was too young.  But I didn't regret it.  And secretly, she was amazing about it.  She purchased books on how to learn about "homosexuals" and educated herself.  By the time I did come out to my parents, she was my biggest advocate.

Everyone's coming out is entirely different.  It can be terrifying.  But you have to do what is right for you.  A lot of people say that if you don't come out, you are not being honest with yourself and you are living a lie and that YOU MUST COME OUT!  I don't completely agree with this kind of thinking.  With no two scenarios being alike, it's easy for some to say things like this without understanding what someone else's situation is like.

Here is what I recommend.  Sit down and make a list of possible responses (good and bad) your parents might have when coming out to them.  Then take that list and arrange it in order from most likely response to least likely response.  This should give you a clearer picture of what to potentially expect based on your relationship with your parents.

Then do a cost/benefit analysis.  By being in the closet, you say you feel like you aren't being honest with yourself.  Which do you feel might be worse?  Your parents response?  Or how you will feel if you continue to stay in the closet?  If it is the former, then wait to come out until your scenario with them has changed.  If it is the latter, then go ahead and come out.  (Side note: if you feel like there is a potential for violence or abuse to occur, do not come out.  Wait until you can be in a safe place in your life.)

As for the actual process of doing it, I've learned it's best to be active about it, and not passive.  What I mean is don't leave little clues around expecting them to pick up on it.  That is just going to make things more awkward and aggravating.  The more straight forward you can be, the better.

It's like that band-aid analogy.  If you rip it off really fast, it will hurt more at first, but the pain will go away quicker.  If you try and pull it off slowly, the pain will seem less, but it will last longer.  

Find the right time to sit down with them so that they have plenty of time to talk and ask questions (i.e. don't drop the bomb right before going out to a birthday dinner or something). Feel free to use a safe language, but don't overly sugar coat it so they accidentally don't understand what you're trying to say.   Don't be upset with them if they get upset.  Be empathetic.  It can be confusing information for some people.  Patience, love, and grace will get you much further than being defensive.

I know it sounds scary, but if your cost/benefit analysis makes it seem like coming out is an okay move for you at this point in your life, then push past the fear.  Fear is what stops us from living a fuller life.  Remember that being brave is NOT about "not being afraid."  It is about being afraid and doing it anyway. 

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Dylan Asks: What age was your first guy relationship?

Hi Dylan,

What a lovely question!  I started dating guys when I was about sixteen.  I met my first REAL longterm boyfriend when I was eighteen.  The first year was amazing.  Then the second two years were a nightmare.  I write about him in my upcoming book... because I made a fool of myself trying to impress him and think I was worthy of him.  I was a mess and learned a lot from it.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Saajan Asks: I am 22 years old and into a guy who just turned 16... is he too young or is this fine?

I am 22 years old and into a guy who just turned 16...is this ok? I mean age is just a number but I feel he is young still and I am an adult...is this right? Or should I turn away from this and move on. Actually he asked me out in a very great and mature way but again he is 16...is he too young or is this fine?
— Saajan

Hi Sajaan,

I would say to go ahead and steer clear of this one.  If you are in the United States, your respective age difference would make this statutory rape.  While this may feel natural and consensual for you, the eyes of the law do not see it that way.  If you pursue this, you could risk prison time and a lifetime of being labeled a sex offender.    

Aside from legalities, dating someone so young would come with a lot of emotional consequence.  At that age, there is still so much development happening and maturity needed.  Our teens and early twenties are the prime time to experience mistakes and learn lessons.  And the younger someone is, the more mistakes they have to learn from.  

So if you date someone who hasn't learned enough lessons yet, then you are going to get someone with the lack of maturity to create a sustainable relationship.  And on top of that, this could mean that YOU will end up in the track of their potential mistakes.  All of this, to me, adds up to a lot of youthful chaos that wouldn't be worth dating... and then also prison.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Jay Asks: When did you first find out you were attracted to men? Would you be able to share the story?

Hi Jay,

I actually write a bit about this a bit in my upcoming book.  I'll leave the initial story for the book.  But the general story is that as an emerging teen, anytime I got my hands on porno, I started noticing that I had an affinity towards the guys more than the girls.  

I actually was genuinely turned on by the female body.  But the male body really captivated me.  Over time, I noticed that I was starting to just look at the men and ignoring the women.  At that point, I started to realize that I was very different from my peers.  At age fifteen, I identified as bi. By the time I turned sixteen, I was a full on homo.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Stu Asks: What is your best and worst travel experience? What would your dream holiday be?

Hi Stu,

Thanks for reading and thanks for asking.  This was oddly a tough question.

I have had so many great travels.  I think my favorite would be San Diego in October of 2015.  I had just quit my job in social work to pursue my dream of being a writer.  We had originally planned to go there for my best friends' sister's wedding.  But we went early to catch a concert from my favorite band Garbage.  Then we got lots of time on the nude beach.  

Then we went to Disney Land.  I don't necessarily care about Disney but going on these rides made my partner and I laugh in ways that still brings the biggest smiles to my heart.  Then I fucked it up by doing something naughty that I shouldn't have.  The thing that made it amazing was that my partner forgave me.  

Then I won a wet underwear contest at a bar even though I was up against guys who had washboard abs.  I plan to write this story sometime in the future because it terrified the fuck out of me.  Then we got to spend time with my best friend and enjoy the wedding.  We also got to stay with amazing people and eat lots of awesome food.  Just so much happened and it was all so wonderful.

As for my dream trip... that one is easy.  I would love to do a full tour of Spain - go to all the major cities and the small towns and, of course, all the nude beaches.  Embarrassingly enough, I have never been across the ocean.  Going to Spain has always been on the top of my list.  I would also love to see Greece (for the architecture and the beaches) and Germany (for the dirty bars and the public nudity) and Australia (for the koala bears and the hot dudes).

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger