‘Did I Forget to Take the Magical Relationship Pill?’ + ‘He’s Too Quiet During Sex’

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Ryan O’Connell is a New York-based writer. He likes shoegaze, the Olsen Twins, and figuring out why people do the things they do. Oh, and he tweets

Check back each Thursday for his latest Call Your Boyfriend column.  

I’m in my third year at a “quirky liberal arts school” and I have yet to have a serious relationship. The gay hookup culture here is jaded, catty, and downright depressing. The cherry on top of this is that we’re in the middle of nowhere. So 24 hours a day, we’re all surrounded by each other and only each other.  We go to the same parties, eat at the same places, shit in the same shitters. There is no off campus, there is no REAL WORLD. Consequently, the only way I truly know how to pick up a guy is to “bump and grind” at your neighborhood queer party, which, from my experiences, leads only to more hooking up. SO, my question is this: is there some different approach I can adopt to make me predisposed to a relationship, especially in a setting like this one? I feel like theres some magical relationship pill that I just forgot to take.  

BB queer 

My lil’ BB queer.

If there were a magical relationship pill we could all take, there’d be a shitload of overdoses. I feel your pain re: wanting a serious relationship, but I want you to understand that there is nothing wrong with a junior in college never having been in a longterm relationship before. Plus, gay men are a little late to the monogamy game in general, so when you add the overall fickle mood of college students into the mix, it can be extra difficult to find something substantive.

Honestly, as much as I know you’d like something serious, I’d urge you to just embrace being alone for the time being. Sure, that may be easier said than done – nothing is more frustrating than wanting something SO badly and then having someone in “authority” say “Stop wanting it so badly!” I spent my first two years at college COMPLETELY single, simply because there were no prospects. (In college, sometimes there is literally no one for you to have sex with. I get it!) So instead, I focused on myself and my friendships. I know that might sound lame but honestly, college (especially an isolated liberal arts college) can be one huge mindfuck of hormones and emotional crises and identity-defining moments. Sometimes it’s necessary to be by yourself just so you can figure out who the hell you are.

So hang out in your dorm for a while, but don’t cut yourself off. Take advantage of the fact that all of your friends live in walking distance from you and that these four years of your life are like one blissed-out summer camp. Go on trips with your friends. Go abroad. Take a summer course somewhere. Immerse yourself in your studies! (Don’t roll your eyes. You won’t know how awesome it is to just learn new things every day for a living until you’re out of college.) Basically, just spend more time in the present and trust that a relationship will eventually come.

Also, if you’re hooking up with someone and want it to turn into something more real, you might have to actually, you know, bring it up with that person. I know it’s scary but people are so pussy these days and allergic to honesty that SOMEONE has to step up to the plate or else nothing will ever happen. (I swear, the birth rates are going to go down with our generation simply because people are too chicken to ever make a move!) If your hookup is like, “No thanks, I’ma just do me for a little bit,” it will sting but at least you can move on and cross another commitment-phobe off your list.


I (female) am in a Friends With Benefits situation with a good friend of mine (male) who is not super sexually experienced. He’s also a little shy. I want to get him to vocalize more, he’s super quiet when I’m blowing him and when he comes… how do I ask him to do this in a way that won’t hurt his self esteem or make him close up? I don’t want to make him think I’m not turned on by him, but him being a little more vocal would turn me on more!!


Hey Em,

Okay, first of all, do not be shy. You can’t cum without CUMunication (ed note: He’s here all week! Tip your waitress!). I love it when a guy makes noise when I’m going down on him. A blowjob is not supposed to be like a Charlie Chaplin movie! When a guy moans and says things like, “That feels so good,” it lets me know that I’m doing all right and encourages me to go better, faster, stronger. So listen, you said this guy isn’t that sexually experienced, right? Well, then that means he’s probably begging for you to tell him what to do! I’m sorry but when I first started having sex, I was just like, “PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU LIKE. GIVE ME A MAP BECAUSE I AM LOST IN YOUR BODY RIGHT NOW.” I realize that straight dudes tend to have more of an ego about asking, but if he’s a decent human being, chances are he’ll be glad you told him to make more noise or smack your ass or whatever else strikes your fancy. He wants you to enjoy it!

If you don’t want to be so forward and literally say, “Make more noise, you dummy.” Have a discussion with him post-coitus about what turns you on. Then you can both drop helpful hints without making the other person feel weird.


Two days ago, I mutually broke up with a girl I’d been dating for two years. We’d been trying an open relationship because she wants to bone another dude we work with/live with (think commune, but less hippie) but it wasn’t working for me. We actually sort of came to the conclusion together. She and the other guy are indeed boning.

The problem is that she wants our post-breakup friendship to be exactly the same as our relationship, minus sex. That seems like a red flag to me. What do I do?

-Ex’s Best Friend?

Hey Ex’s Best Friend,

Ah, the age-old question: can you be friends with an ex?

The answer is: yes, you can but it depends on the relationship — and you can’t certainly be the BFF your ex wants you to be right off the bat. The reason is that one or both of you needs time to mourn and heal. No matter what. Trust me. I once spent five years mourning a six-month relationship! I made the mistake of being friends with the guy I lost my virginity to, even though he was the one who fell out of teen lust with me and broke my heart. He told me exactly what your ex told you (“I still want to be FRIENDS!!!”) and I acquiesced because I was weak and willing to settle for any kind of relationship with him rather than nothing. It was torture. Interacting with him in this watered-down capacity only prolonged my grief. It took me FIVE YEARS to finally be like, “Um, no” and cut him out for good.

I know you said your break up with this girl was mutual but honestly, it sounds like your ex wants to have her cake and still be able to drunk dial you too. You might no longer have feelings for her but it’s best to have space for a little bit, especially if she’s off boning other guys and you’re unattached (and MOST especially if you’re all living/working together in some pseudo-hippie-but-not-really commune). I don’t care what you say, that’s got to sting a little bit, right?

From what you’ve told me, this doesn’t seem like a gnarly “GO SCREW YOURSELF” kind of breakup, so the chances of you guys pulling a Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal are high. Just don’t rush into it! And when you ARE ready to dip your feet into the friendship pool, make sure you have one major conversation that clears the air between you two and deletes any issues you might possibly still have. Once any lingering anger, bitterness and pain has been cleared up, a friendship can be good to go.


My friends don’t think that my boyfriend of 3 1/2 years is right for me. Sadly, I know where they’re coming from but I don’t want to give him up. (He will be a good husband, I think.) Keep or Break?

-Should I Stay Or Should I Go

Hello Should I Stay Or Should I Go,

First of all, can I just say that this is a VERY common dilemma? I can’t tell you how many of my friends I’ve seen stick around in a “just OK” relationship. Like, it’s not terrible but it’s not great, so they keep it going just because it feels like too much of a hassle to end it. (Stay tuned for MUCH more on this topic in the next few weeks.)

In the meantime, here’s the deal: you should never keep someone around just because you think they’d be a good husband. Most of the guys I’ve dated would’ve made excellent husbands or even fathers for that matter, but I had to let it go because ultimately they weren’t the right husbands for ME.

It seems like your hesitancy to break up with this guy stems from the fact that you two have been together for so long, which I completely understand. Relationships are like investments and it’s extremely painful when something you’ve dedicated so much time and energy to sours. But, listen, if you have doubts and are agreeing with your friends’ misgivings about the relationship (I’m not saying your friends are right, by the way. I just think it’s very telling that you see where they’re coming from), then chances are you already have one foot out of the door.

I would never advise you to just break up with your boyfriend of three and a half years. I would, however, implore you to examine the reasons why you’re still in the relationship. Is it because of fear? Is it because you’ve just been together for so long or because you think he’d treat you right as a husband? Because those aren’t necessarily good enough reasons. If you don’t have passion for this man, the relationship can only go on for so long before it makes you (and him) actively unhappy.

Ask yourself this: When you think about breaking up with your boyfriend, do you stop yourself because of logistics? Like, maybe you live together and you can’t afford to live apart? Or your friend groups are too intertwined? Logistics shouldn’t keep a relationship going.

Once you’re done with all of this emotional weed-whacking, here’s a fun exercise: think about your dream relationship. What does it look like? What does HE look like? How does he spend his evenings? What does he say when you both wake up in the morning? And finally, how does this ideal compare to the relationship you’re currently in? If there’s a giant inequity between the two, you have a problem. Please know that you don’t have to settle. You don’t have to keep dating a tasteless rice cake when what you really want is some damn Nutella. And for GOD’S sake, don’t hold onto the relationship so far past its expiration date that you wind up married with kids. Above all, don’t let fear keep you in something that doesn’t feel right!

You KNOW you have a question. Send it to Ryan.