In this, the first in a series of ‘agony aunt‘ articles, The Existential Expert responds to your questions, covering topics including polyamory in lockdown, coping with people who like playing board games – and more.
Our brief is to cut through the media noise with clarity and wisdom: no nonsense, no quarter and no mansplaining. Please note, our responses are based partly on dialogue and debate with another like mind – actually my great aunt Katey – a social-distanced communion that has facilitated the nuance and breadth of advice.
We thank those that replied to our initial call-out for questions via social media – and we present our answers below.
Q: I am polyamorous and currently in a consenting relationship with two other people. We all live separately and up until the lockdown were enjoying the benefits and flexibility of that arrangement. Once the restrictions were introduced, we all collectively understood they presented a necessary, temporary hold on physical contact.
However, I‘ m concerned now about how to negotiate the sexual politics of the NSW Government’s ‘Singles Bubble‘. Who do I select as a nominated visitor without offending the other party?
J.M. (Engadine, NSW)
Existential Expert: Hi J.M.
This is undoubtedly a tricky situation – and we don’t dispute that someone is likely to get hurt unless you treat it judiciously. The rule, for the uninitiated, is that a person who lives with no other adult is able to choose a nominated visitor who will be able to visit the single person at their residence. Clearly, this is primarily the government’s concession to the public need for sexy time – to which we firstly respond, “Isn’t masturbation enough for you people?”
Our best advice, frankly, is to be judicious with the truth – and just opt for one individual. This would probably mean the person with the best technique – depending on your personal preference. Be practical. If the feelings of guilt that arise with this compromise your ability to enjoy intimacy, remind yourself of the mantra that ‘exceptional times call for exceptional measures‘.
We could probably make the assumption you’re not too sentimental about sex – so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. And if it is, we recommend forgetting about the singles bubble – and opt instead for an onanism bubble. If you find yourself sentimental about that, well … we can’t help you!
We wish you well on your journey.
Q: Help, I’m an anti-vaxxer – but only because I’m afraid of needles. In fact, I’m still going to have the vax – but I’m an anti it (in spirit) – mainly because I’m afraid of fainting when I get the jab and making a fool of myself. Can you provide any advice how to deal with this?
Claire (Glebe, NSW)
Existenial Expert: Hi Claire,
Firstly, needle phobia is perfectly normal and you don’t need to feel embarrassed about it. The thought of having anything inserted into our bodies is fairly confronting at the best of times – and, in front of strangers, it can make things worse. Just remember that everyone is feeling anxious at the moment and that people should be forgiving. If they’re not – they’re jerks and you can forget them.
Conquering anticipation will be half the battle. When getting your shot, we recommend distracting – or refocussing – yourself in the time it takes for you to get to the front of the queue. This could mean, depending on your preference, anything from listening to loud music on headphones to, say, astral projection. Or reading an especially paranoid subreddit.
We’re all for embracing the ‘now‘ but sometimes it’s just better to deny reality or at least give yourself a reason to suspect it’s not something to be trusted. Fortunately, there are numerous ways out there to refuse to believe in objective truth – as anti-vaxxers demonstrate.
All the best with your delusions.
Q: My bae and I have been isolating as per Gladys’ rules. Unfortunately, he is getting restless – and wants to play cards and board games on Friday nights. This has happened the last few weeks and for a while I was prepared to indulge him but he’s annoyingly competitive, I’d rather watch Netflix and drink wine – and I’m just over it. He thinks it’s ‘our thing‘ and has even started calling Friday “Game Night”. How do I explain to him that I’m just not into it? Please help!
Existential Expert: Hi Desperate. Firstly, we feel your pain.
Board game and card playing enthusiasts are tricky to negotiate – for some reason, they seem to be really pervasive, notably in long-term relationships. Persistent too. Actually, the instinct toward card playing is a little like a herpes. It‘s always there, lurking about, ready to flare up in times of stress.
Firstly, don’t feel guilty. Games are an acquired taste. That taste is for the need to plug some gaping emptiness in life. You shouldn’t feel any compunction about saying something like “no”.
We suggest channelling this competitiveness into more productive activities. Asking them “how fast can you do the washing up” or “how fast can you make me climax – the record is two minutes”.
A panacea for uncertain times, the Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns published each Sunday.
Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice, and should not be treated as such.
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