You Asked It

Just Wondering

Advice on hooking up, internet friends, and masturbation.

I have a close friend whom I’ve known all my life. Because we are so close, we’ve obviously picked up traits and interests from each other. But I can’t help noticing that when she exhibits a trait or interest that she got from me, she is praised for it, while no one has ever noticed those qualities in me. And when we do creative projects together, even ones I’ve initiated, our mutual friends tell her how cool and creative she is while they ignore me. I feel like I’ve been robbed—like someone copied a painting of mine and sold it for millions while my original is sitting at home, and no one’s buying. All of this has led me to start acting different from who I really am, because if I hide my real personality, no one can co-opt and benefit from it while I get nothing out of the deal. How can I deal with these feelings of jealousy and resentment? —Cass, 17, Malaysia

I know the saying is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I’ve totally copped styles and records and lipstick shades from friends I thought were THE coolest. I mean, haven’t we all been copycats at some point in our lives, on different levels, stealing bits of life inspo and advice from others? But it can be tempting to get mad annoyed by a “copycat” friend, and that’s not always a great line of thinking.

Of course, when it comes to being recognized for creative work you’re collaborating on with someone, it’s good to speak up if you feel like your name/contribution is being cut out of it. I know the feeling of having worked really hard on something which nobody gives you credit for, and it sucks—getting recognition for your work is really nice, and, if you put effort into it, you deserve it! There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, I feel like I was a really big part of this thing we did together. Everyone thinks you were the only one who did it, and it hurts my feelings.” Sometimes, when someone’s being praised left and right, they can forget that they had help. In those cases, remind them.

What worries me here is that you feel like you deserve credit for things your friend does on her own that you see as “yours.” Are you looking for credit for projects you’ve worked hard on together? Or, are you looking for credit for having been a certain way before your friend (maybe you feel like you had an idea first, were into some scene first, etc.)? Because you can’t really expect people to praise you for your traits and interests, just like you can’t make art in the hopes that someone else will like it: No matter what you’ve done, someone’s probably done it before you, so you don’t get brownie points for having certain personality traits or tastes. Although it may seem like your friend is stealing them from you, it’s very likely that she doesn’t mean to. And, even if she is conscious of it, I doubt her intent is malicious—just like mine wasn’t when I thought my friend’s lipstick was rad and got some of my own.

Your friend isn’t a thief for having things in common with you, and I hardly think she’s stealing your entire identity. You’re just going to be similar to your friends sometimes, period. That’s part of what’s so great about them! If anything, you should celebrate the fact that you two are so much alike: That’s what friends do! I have LITERALLY copied my friends’ jokes (by accident!) because I thought they were funny and because I thought I had thought of them, because they seemed like something I’d say. When my friends call me out on stuff like that, their reaction is surprisingly not “Hey! Stop copying me!” It’s “Yeah, it’s totally funny, let’s recognize how awesome it is that our oh-so-great minds think alike.”

So I don’t think you should try to be different just because your friend is similar to you. Why force a personality, especially when someone else is invariably going to have things in common with whatever New You you come up with? You’re going to meet people again and again who are just like you in ways that might make you uncomfortable or even jealous. Realize that you can’t focus on being the very first person to be recognized for being A, B, and C, and these feelings will become easier to deal with. —Hazel

I cannot get myself off with my hand. Touching my clit basically feels the same as scratching my forehead, and fingering myself just plain hurts. I’ve masturbated through just plain friction for a while, but I’m worried that when the time comes that I actually want to do stuff with a real live person, I won’t be stimulated by any direct touching they do. Is this normal? —Olivia, 14, Illinois

I’m happy to be the wizard who appears when you think you need someone to save you, but who actually shows you that you already have everything you need to solve your quest. *waves wand, and your letter appears in the air*

OK, let’s break your question down into its constituent parts. First part: “I cannot get myself off with my hand.”

First, with regard to whether this is normal: Yessss, absolutely! A lot of people can’t orgasm with just their fingers. This doesn’t mean you’re an official failure at sex. I checked the book and you’re not in it. (JK, nobody is. Nobody fails at sex.)

You don’t mention whether you’re having orgasms when you masturbate via friction, but I assume it’s making you feel good, and that’s an awesome thing to know how to do to yourself. This factoid puts you in the advantaged position of understanding what you like before it’s called upon by a motivated person, quite possibly a naked one, who really wants to know. Nice work! Where you see “I cannot get off with my hand,” I see… *waves wand* “I can get myself off in another way.”

Part two: “Touching my clit basically gives off the same amount of sensation as scratching my forehead.”

*waves wand* “Touching my clit in this one specific way doesn’t work for me, but this other way does.” The clitoris you can see and touch directly is only a tiny external piece of the entire clitoral body, which is mostly internal. This means that your clitoris is probably what you’re stimulating when you masturbate in the way that you’re used to, just more indirectly. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education’s “Guide to Clitoral Sex” has more on this and might be a good read for you.

The same advice can be applied to the third part of your question: “Fingering myself in this specific way doesn’t work for me, but other ways could.” If you want to try adding new and different techniques, take some time to learn and adapt your method on your own. This Scarleteen article has all you need to know on this front and on other kinds of touching that you might find interesting. If you just plain-long don’t like any of it, fear not: Plenty of people have if-everyone-knew-they’d-just-be-getting-high-fives-all-the-time sex lives without ever engaging in vaginal penetration, or any penetration at all, trust. And even if that were not true—even if it was just you—it wouldn’t matter one whit.

Which gets us into the last thing you asked about: “I’m worried that when the time comes that I actually want to do stuff with a real live person, I won’t be stimulated by any direct touching they do.” Great sex looks different for every person, and it’s at least a little different each time for the same person. You can incorporate the way you masturbate into your partner sex!Sex for you might not ever involve penetration. It might not even involve you receiving direct physical pleasure. You might be the kind of person who would rather please their partner, or not have an orgasm, or get off by yourself with a partner there.

Doing stuff with a real live person isn’t going to be a face-off between your “weird” sex map vs. their “normal” one. Even in the most casual encounters, people shouldn’t just be “having sex.” They should be having sex with EACH OTHER, specifically! You’ve got a certain way of getting off, and so will your partner. Every single person in this world gets off in a different way! When you get there, how will you figure out what your partner like, or help them figure out what you like? Talking about it, for one, and this is something you can read up on beforehand, too.

Finally, I will refer you to the goddess Cindy Gallop’s articles for everything you need to know in this department. Each one of them—especially this one and this one—will help you feel more powerful, savvy, and prepared for when you decide to go for it. This wizard is sparkling with joy for you, as she waves her wand a final time, showing you a 100 percent ready and willing sex partner who’s happy to try anything you want to try, no pressure, when you’re ready. This person is yourself. Get it! —Lola


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  • soviet_kitsch May 20th, 2014 11:53 PM

    lola, i’m SO glad you pointed out that penetration doesn’t have to be a part of sex. that goes overlooked quite often! there are so many ways to have sex that don’t involve inserting this into that

  • Anna May 21st, 2014 12:34 AM


  • emseely May 21st, 2014 12:51 AM

    queen ARS strikes again

  • maskedcat May 21st, 2014 1:46 AM

    Hey Olivia- If fingering yourself hurts then it might be a good idea to talk to a gynecologist. (Especially if inserting a tampon also hurts – assuming you’ve started your period and tried tampons, obvs.) What you’re describing sounds a lot like me at 14. I tried talking to my mom but she didn’t really believe me so I figured I must be doing something wrong. I found workarounds for masturbation (friction!!!) but when I finally started having sex it was crazy-painful. I eventually found a good doctor and got diagnosed and treated but I could have avoided a lot of unnecessary pain if I’d stuck up more for myself and made my parents (and doctors) take me seriously. It can be hard to talk about such a personal thing, but it’s totally worth it to find out if something’s wrong.

    For what it’s worth – two fairly common conditions that can cause the kind of pain you’re describing are vulvodynia and vestibulodynia (VBD). They’re both conditions where some of the nerves ‘down there’ aren’t working properly and register what should be a nice touch as really painful. They get misdiagnosed (or ignored) a lot and women and girls lots of times are told it’s ‘all in your head’. It sounds a little scary, but they’re totally treatable! I’m not trying to diagnose you or anything – I’m not a doctor or anything and you know your body best. If this doesn’t sound right, ignore me! Just remember, as long as you’re gentle, it should never hurt to touch yourself down there. If something does hurt you should check it out and if no one listens, keep trying – you’re worth it!

  • RatioRae May 21st, 2014 4:47 AM

    Hey Cass, I used to feel the same way all the time. It didn’t help at all that this friend and I eventually got into a big fight and she started writing really mean things about me online. Eventually, I just got over it because I realised that although we shared some of the same traits, there are so many other things that makes us unique. Find those completely unique traits and you will shine! Also, greetings from a fellow Malaysian. ;)

    And to anon, it’s not that hard, sometimes you just have to reach out! It’s ok if you don’t have common interests at first. I only started getting interested in certain things after reading about the passion others have about it. Feel free to hit me up on my blog or whatever, I love making new friends! :D

  • Vlada May 21st, 2014 5:24 AM

    Love this post as always, Amy your writing is unbelievable! I love how you present you point of view, and the advices you give, so thank you for that.
    Hello Hazel!!! The question you answered is one that I’ve asked myself many times. This friend I have wouldn’t stop “copying” me and at first, I felt like she was stealing something from me. Then, I realized that she happened to like my style and how I did things, she just embraced my methods because she thought they worked and I’m glad to be someone elses example. She didn’t copy me, she thought that I was cool enough to do some things they way I did them WHAT A HUGE COMPLIMENT!
    Thank you Lola for being so open about an issue that people seem to think is awkward :)
    And last but not least GABBY!!Very good advice right there, keep writing like you do, because I love reading it. I’ll tell my Internet friends about you :)

    PS: Sorry if it’s a shup-up-it-is-too-long comment. Btw this is my blog

  • sneakybacon May 21st, 2014 7:10 AM

    hey olivia,
    i’m 20 and have been in a sexual relationship for over 3 years now and it was literally only last week that i figured out how to make myself come with just my hands, so i really wouldn’t worry :)
    what i’d recommend in the meantime is using a vibrator (or even an electric toothbrush with a unused head on). the extra stimulation is often what some women need to come, especially when you’re figuring it out.
    also what i found helpful was watching something arousing, it took me ages to realise not all porn is derogatory and violent, so its worth looking around on the internet for something you like.
    In regards to fingering hurting it may just be a lack of lubrication. it might be a good idea to buy some or spend more time becoming aroused through watching things or fantasising. if this doesn’t work maybe do follow the above advice and see a gynaecologist, but i wouldn’t let it worry you yet, i still don’t like fingering myself, and theres nothing wrong with that.
    I hope this helps and remember to just have fun, there is no right time or right way xxxxxxx

  • Crumpets May 21st, 2014 7:26 AM

    Good grief, Amy Rose, you are just wondrous. You manage to be so articulate in a non-wanker-y kind of way. (That’s a compliment.) Thank you for existing and writing all of this weird relevant information.
    (I kinda want to hear the empty bathtub story now.)

  • Kaetlebugg May 21st, 2014 10:59 AM

    I would also like to point out, for the last question, that sometimes when you are with another person your body does stuff you totally don’t expect, or your feelings are heightened in a way that you just don’t get with masturbation – like when I penetrate myself with my fingers, even when I’m wet, it doesn’t really feel like anything, but when my partner does it after a great deal of foreplay, it feels amazing.

  • Kathryn May 21st, 2014 6:36 PM

    “paypal me a high five” amy rose is a one-in-a-million gem and a tru delight

  • kendallkh May 22nd, 2014 10:23 PM

    olivia: what sneakybacon said! (“its worth looking around on the internet for something you like.” i was bummed for years that i couldn’t get myself off but finally i realized that for me, just plain touching does nothing. once i started figuring out what i was into and looking around on the internet for stuff that got me off, then i could totally get going and it was no problem. just take some time to figure out what’s right for you!

  • Estelle May 23rd, 2014 11:51 AM

    “a herb who wants to feel a thing”

  • lauraunicorns May 24th, 2014 12:52 AM

    Hi, Lily! I don’t mean to be weird or anything but I hardly ever hear of any other Rookies existing in Alabama (which SUCKS – there need to be more of us), so I just thought I’d say hello from the same state!

  • lilshiek May 26th, 2014 6:36 PM

    I have the same kind of problems as Cass and, personally, I feel that your answer is insensitive and lacks a lot of empathy. At least in my situation, it isn’t about wanting credit or expecting validation. When my friends copy me, despite the ridiculousness, it feels as if she is directly robbing me of my INDIVIDUALITY. I’ve had friends tell my own personal stories about my parents and make them about her own parents, I’ve even had a friend say that her eyes were green when they were clearly brown JUST BECAUSE my eyes are green. It can be incredibly discouraging to be copied, though it can be a form of flattery. When a friend takes your traits or style without giving credit–pretending like those traits are THEIR OWN that came from THEIR MIND when they didn’t…. that is when it really hurts.

    Your point is clearly valid… but the number one faux pas in giving someone advice is invalidating their own feelings…. and the others that relate.

  • icanthinkofanythingoriginal May 28th, 2014 8:32 PM

    How do you send in questions?