1. People assume this was your grand plan all along.
I never set out to be a sex columnist. I wasn’t like “Mom when I grow up I want to kiss and tell.” But then again, I had so many crappy experiences dating, I wrote them down just to stay sane. One thing led to another and I inherited Candace Bushnell’s column at the Observer. I called it, “The J-Spot,” for, you know…um, Jasmine.
2. You often have to ask yourself: Where does my allegiance lie—with the man I’m dating or my sex column?
This dilemma can be super stressful because intimacy is what makes for a healthy relationship and yet, it’s often what makes for the best sex column material. After several column- related breakups, I decided I’d only write about a relationship once it had ended, but the hope is a relationship will last! Career versus personal life takes on a whole new meaning when your dating life is basically your career, quite the existential crisis! I often wonder when I meet the “one” how my writing will change. I look towards examples like sexpert Dan Savage. When his partner asked him not to write about him, Dan’s writing became less personal and yet, his impact was just as big, if not bigger. So there’s hope!
3. The column can be foreplay and, at times, even power play.
Many men are intrigued by my column. The risk that they too could be exposed (although always disguised) can be titillating. “Don’t write about me,” I’ve been told. But as the saying goes, if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. And so, is it so crazy a sex columnist writes about her sex life? But what’s strange, is after a few pissed off texts, they often come back for more. I try to stay away from this kind of power play though because winning or revenge is never the intention behind my writing. But the writing as foreplay can be hot. One time I was hooking up with a guy who jokingly started reciting lines from a column he had just starred in. I egged him on and called him by his fictional name, “Hey Jerry, did you like the line, ‘I have so much to tell you, important things like, Fuck you.’?” It was actually really fun and hot.
4. People tell me way too much about their sex lives.
Often, it’s unsolicited and I’m not always in the mood to talk sex. I was at a party and this seemingly nice guy got really graphic. He told me about this new technique for doggy style he discovered with his girlfriend. “Take a towel, wrap it around her waist and you can use it like a harness– you know, for leverage.” I just couldn’t get the visual out of my head. But on a nicer note, talking sex can be a good icebreaker at a party. It all depends on your company, and I’ve certainly found some great content for my column from strangers.
5. My job title changes depending on the crowd.
When I hang out with my parents and their friends I may call myself a relationship columnist or if I’m just not in the mood to elaborate, I’m a personal essayist. Amongst dating experts, I might change it up and call myself a dating columnist. But the majority of the time, I tell people I’m sex columnist. It’s fun to say, especially amongst a crowd of super uptight people.
6. My parents are only allowed to read the columns I tell them they can read.
Of course, I have no way of knowing if they actually listen to me. I’d like to think my father never read about the time I blew x in the mailroom and screwed y in the back seat of the car. But that can’t be helped. At a certain point, you just have to do you.
7. I’m far better at writing graphic sex scenes than speaking about them.
I’ve done some Facebook live videos and felt icky when certain guys have asked me creepy questions about my sex life. I can sense when it’s a genuine sex question and when they’re just trying to get off. But when I write about sex on the page, I’m pretty fearless. I feel free and I’m in my own creative world. Once I publish, I’m often nervous but soon after, I’m on to the next.
8. People assume I’m a sexpert.
They’re certain I know about every type of vibrator, that I’ve got a whole collection of crystal healing dildos, that I’ve memorized the Kamasutra, that I’m a tantric yoga guru and that I have all their sex-related answers. But I would say when someone declares themselves a sex or dating expert, they’re probably full of shit. No one has got sex and dating down. It’s an ever-evolving process of growing, learning and experiencing. I just happen to really enjoy writing about it.
9. People assume I’m promiscuous.
They’re shocked I’m not out every night having orgies at sex clubs. I was at a party and this guy I barely knew pulled me aside, “We’re obviously attracted to each other and you’re a sex columnist so we should like totally have sex.” I wasn’t attracted to him in the least. So I told him I just wasn’t into casual sex. He shook his head disapprovingly, “You’re a sex columnist who doesn’t like sex?”
10. Actually, there was a period of time when I was totally celibate.
It just sort of happened that way. I still had my monthly deadlines, so I’d write about my friends’ sex lives and excavate stories from my past. I kept my celibacy a secret. I felt I was a living this lie, writing about sex but not having it. I just needed a break from the D. I had found myself hooking up, thinking about writing the story instead of experiencing the person and opening myself up to a real connection. So after a bunch of toxic relationships, I abstained from dating and focused on “dating” myself. Over time, my sex-free cleanse ended, and in hindsight, it was all part of my growth. No one should ever be made to feel bad about how much sex one is having. Women are so often shamed for being too sexual and then shamed for being too prudish. It’s hard to get the balance right if you’re in the habit of pleasing society.
11. Beware of the man who wants to be written about.
He’s a narcissist dying to be immortalized. Since I don’t sugar coat my columns, it’s always odd publicly writing my true feelings for someone when I’m not yet ready to share them with that same person. Usually, when there’s that kind of lack of communication, the relationship is based on lust and not something real.
12. Beware of the man who forbids you to write about him.
It may have worked for Dan Savage, but so far in my experience, the men who have been so adamant about me not writing about them have been controlling. I think there’s got to be a balance. It would be nice to find a guy who was at least open to it. Ironically though, I find that when I meet someone I really like I want to keep our intimate details private. When someone says don’t think of an elephant, all I can think of is an elephant. Same thing for me with writing. I’ve never been very good at being told what to do.
13. Sex column as a ploy.
When I write a column, the sex is often the icing and a way to keep the reader’s interest piqued. But there’s always a message I sneak in about an issue or a theme I care about. Lately, that’s been politics, power dynamics, courage and of course, LOVE.