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I Haven’t Had Sex in Years & I’m Nervous About the First Time Back




Q: You’re probably going to just respond with “Hey girl, up your therapy appointments and go smoke something!” but here goes. I haven’t had sex in about three years, and I’m just completely unsure about how to approach it now — even though I was very wild and extremely confident in my sex life (and sexual capabilities) in my early 20s.

Four years ago, I broke up with my longtime boyfriend when one of my parents got diagnosed with cancer. I moved out of our apartment and in with my parent and became a caretaker for them. Other than going to work, I put ALL of my energy into them for a year. They passed away at the beginning of the pandemic, almost immediately after my office transitioned into work from home and everything shut down. Dating wasn’t an option, and sex with a stranger during a pandemic was absolutely off the table.

Recently I’ve been flirting with a guy I went to school with, but every time we talk about hooking up, I immediately back out. The pandemic definitely created social anxiety for me, and there’s also some emotional anxiety after losing a parent that years of therapy and meds still haven’t quite fixed. I feel like I’m going to mentally psych myself out the entire time worrying about how I look, if I’m pleasing him, if I’m pleasing myself, and the emotional side effects.

But here’s what I’m stuck on: If not this guy I went to school with, then who? Online dating is an absolute horror show, there’s not a lot of single men where I live, and my new favorite place to spend my weekend is my sofa, and so far, zero men have randomly shown up in my living room ready to have sex with me.

A: Look, I’m never going to recommend against the heady combo that is therapy and smoking something. Far be it from me to instruct anyone to shun those two medically backed ways of tackling grief and anxiety. (There are many, many articles about weed helping people with grief!) That said, it’s actually not my suggestion or, at least, not my only one.

First (and perhaps hardest) thing’s first, you have got to give yourself a break. A major one. Think about what you’d say to a friend in your exact same situation. If I came to you and said, “I was a caregiver for a year for my parent, who had cancer, and then they died, and that was right at the beginning of a global pandemic that has lasted for years. Oh, and right before that, I broke up with someone I’d been with for the amount of time it takes to get a bachelor’s degree.” You would probably say something like, “Holy sh*t, that is a ton of impossibly hard things in a row and on top of each other; I can’t believe you’re standing up right now.” Either that or you would say, “‘Global pandemic’ is a little redundant.” But still, I know you’d have a whole heap of compassion in your heart toward my situation. And you’d probably even understand, somewhere in your mind, that I could not possibly be the same person I was before this series of events.

Grief is a multi-car accident. A pileup. Of course meds and therapy haven’t “fixed” this grief. Nothing will. It’s totally unacceptable, this amount of grief. Will medication and therapy change the grief or at least what you’re capable of handling? Yes. Will they “fix” anything? No. And I would argue gently that grief is not a thing to be fixed. Grief is of value. Not to be all WandaVision, but grief is love. You do not want medication that makes that go away.

On top of grieving your parent, which is a full endeavor of its own, you are also going to have to grieve the person you were before all of this “started.” The depressing, intolerable truth is that the person in their 20s who was having fun, wild, uninhibited sex is gone. The lovely twin truth of that, though, is that someone else with more depth and maturity and knowledge and life experience is standing in their place. And! Let me be so clear: This new person you are becoming is also very capable of having smoking hot sex. Fun, wild, uninhibited sex even! But first, you have to work (ugh) to accept that it’s not going to come in the same ways and on the same timeline it would come to 20-something you.

When it comes to sex, the amount of time since you’ve had it is practically irrelevant because each time (especially with a new person) is different. You haven’t forgotten any key pieces of information. This isn’t like trying to remember how to use the three years of French you took in high school to explain how you broke your leg in a discothèque. You have all the info you need. You know how to communicate with partners. You know at least some of the stuff you like or have liked in the past. You know that when something feels good, you keep doing it, and when something feels bad, you put a stop to it. That’s all sex is!

Now, that’s not to be dismissive of how daunting it feels to jump back in, but I just want to remind you that you have handled more crap in the last four years than many people handle in decades. You are not ill-equipped for hard things.

If you know you want to hook up with this guy, you might try not giving yourself an out. Try to push through the awkwardness and discomfort of it all with 20 seconds of insane courage. (Yes, this is from We Bought a Zoo, but it’s still good advice.) If, however, you are not sure if you want to have sex (or sex-adjacent fun) with him, give yourself time. Consider also giving him a heads up so he doesn’t assume your hesitation is a lack of interest. It can be as simple as, “I’ve had a really hard couple years, and I’m kind of anxious about hooking up with someone right now, so that’s why I’m taking this so slowly. It’s not about you at all.”

When you do find yourself in the OMG-I’m-about-to-hook-up-with-this-person moment (and you will!), my sole piece of advice is to let go — much easier said than done, of course. But try not to think about your pleasure or his pleasure or how it’s going to end or what positions he prefers or if you look weird doing something. It’s sex; it’s meant to be fun! It’s the same as going bowling or playing Yahtzee or whatever activities people under 64 are doing. It’s a fun thing two people are doing together. That’s all. It’s not a measure of your worth. It’s not a compatibility test. It’s not a gift you give someone because they’ve flirted with you for X amount of time.

Also, so what if the sex you have the first time you’re back on the field is meh or awkward? Who cares! This isn’t indicative of all the sex you’re ever going to have. The importance of this first time having sex after a while is entirely built up by you, and you can dismantle that belief, too.

Finally — and let me briefly say this is the most common question I get now — I don’t know where you can meet people. I could tell you to get out and go to bars, and you could go to one every single night for 14 years and then end up falling for the guy AAA sends to fix your flat tire. Is going out “better” than staying in when it comes to meeting people? Sure. But I don’t think putting yourself in boring-to-you situations lends itself to finding heart-stopping romantic connections. Forcing yourself into things makes for a grumpy, miserable, and hopeless time at an ax-throwing bar — not true love.

My suggestion is to simply fill up your life with things that feel good. (And that includes sitting on the couch for a certain percentage of your time!!!) Just fill it up. The more good things, the better. Steal joy wherever you can. Try out new things, stretch your comfort a bit, but skip places and situations that don’t feel deeply rewarding or joyful.

There are already too many unpleasant things we have to suffer through in this life. If getting quasi-rejected via dating apps or slogging through a speed dating event isn’t your bag, skip it. Let life unfold; let yourself meet people while you’re doing things you actually like doing. There’s no rush.

It’s A Pleasure appears here every Thursday. If you have a sex, dating, or relationship question, email Sophia at


Personal Care

Who Is Samuel Bottomley? ‘The Teacher’ Star Is a School-Based Drama Regular




Channel 5’s new thriller is going to be a challenging watch.In The Teacher, a Bradford high school teacher is accused of having a drunken encounter with a student. Starring Sheridan Smith as the troubled teacher Jenna Garvey, the four-part series will see the educator struggle to prove her innocence. But who is The Teacher star, Samuel Bottomley? The actor who plays 15-year-old Kyle, the student at the centre of the allegations.

The 20-year old actor may be someone you’re already pretty familiar with, appearing in a number of classic British school-based dramas. West Yorkshire-born, Bottomley notably starred as Jordan Wilson in Channel 4’s school drama Ackley Bridge from 2017, where he was challenged to portray his character’s abusive relationship with his father. He also played school bully, Dean Paxton, in the acclaimed musical comedy, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

The burgeoning talent made his screen debut aged nine years old, featuring in the BAFTA-winning film Tyrannosaur in 2011, alongside celebrated actor Olivia Colman. In the years since, Bottomley has continued making waves in movies, starring in Amazon Original’s “anarchic comedy” Get Duked! in 2019, which saw four teens embark to the Scottish Highlands for a weekend on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Bottomley’s considerable acting CV also includes features in Ghost Stories (2017) and more recently, in the TV series Ladhood.

The Teacher is Bottomley’s latest acting pursuit alongside BAFTA-winner Sheridan Smith, and it seems despite the series’ difficult themes, the actor rather enjoyed his time on set.

“It’s the first time we’d worked together but as soon as I met her, she welcomed me into the cast with open arms,” the actor said, per The Sun. “We sat down and talked about the characters and the scripts and she never let me feel too nervous,” he added. “We were messing around all the time between takes. Everyone had a really good time filming the series and me and Sheridan were always laughing and joking.

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Personal Care

‘And Just Like That’ Episode 9 Looks to Shop




All the best looks from “And Just Like That,” the “Sex and the City” reboot. They include overalls, cocktail dresses and more.

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Personal Care

16 Asian-Owned Beauty Brands That Will Become Your New Favorite




Lunar New Year — oftentimes called Chinese New Year — is one of the most widely-celebrated holidays across the Asian diaspora. Some of my favorite memories center around Lunar Near Year — eating sticky rice cake for breakfast, receiving a red envelope after kow-towing to my parents, and indulging in special Chinese dishes to usher in luck for the new year.

Historically, beauty brands have capitalized on Lunar New Year by offering special edition products (usually emblazoned in red and gold packaging). But Lunar New Year isn’t just a seasonal marketing opportunity. It’s a time for families to gather together, remember past generations’ sacrifices, celebrate how far we have come, and carry our traditions (both new and old) into a hopeful future.

This year, consider celebrating Lunar New Year by supporting these indie, Asian-owned brands and their founders who are paving the way for a more inclusive, equitable beauty space.

Skin Spark Blush Balm

Inspired by nature, founder Jason Lau makes the dreamiest blushes and glitter shadows with the intent of capturing the essence of a moment or an emotion to connect with a wider audience. The product textures are ultra lightweight with major payoff and lasting power, and flattering across a wide spectrum of complexions.

BYO Blush

Youthforia is all about making makeup more whimsical, skin-friendly, and, yes, euphoric. Fiona Chan was sick of coming back home late at night (or early in the morning) after staying out all night with her friends and falling asleep in her makeup, only to wake up with breakouts. She decided to make beauty products that she could sleep in — and thus, Youthforia was born. The BYO Blush and the new Pregame Primer were both personally sleep-tested by Chan — she swears they actually helped to improve her skin over time.

Loved for both its efficacy and affordable price point, Cocokind was created by Priscilla Tsai as a sustainable, transparent skincare brand that won’t break the bank. The brand is also dedicated working against anti-Asian hate, teaming up with Tower 28 to create an AAPI Advocacy bundle to celebrate the Lunar New Year and benefit The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).

Tower 28 Beauty SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation

Known for its milky lip glosses (also included in the Cocokind x Tower28 Lunar New Year bundle) and eczema-friendly face products, Tower28 has gained major buzz since launch. Founder Amy Liu has worked for some of the biggest brands in the skincare game (ever heard of Kate Somerville or Smashbox Cosmetics?), but struggled with finding makeup products that wouldn’t irritate her eczema-prone skin. So, she made her own. Boss move!

Super 8 Vibrant Silk Lipstick

As one of the earliest AAPI beauty brand trailblazers, Jennifer Yen of YenSa Beauty had an untraditional path to beauty. She started her career out as a villain on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and became frustrated at the limited roles being offered to her, as well as how stage makeup was wreaking havoc on her skin. She founded beauty brands Purlisse and YenSa Beauty, both of which are heavily inspired by her Chinese heritage and based on the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine.

Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Matter Of Fact

If you’re sick of your vitamin C serums oxidizing, feeling sticky, and smelling pungent, you’re not alone. That’s how former K-pop star Paul Baek felt before founding skincare brand Matter of Fact. Baek wasoverwhelmed and confused upon entering the beauty space to address his own skin issues, and resolved that there must be a way for skincare to be straightforward and simple. His determination led to a vitamin c formulation that retains 94.25% of its initial 20% ascorbic acid concentration after 16 months, according to the brand’s clinical trials. The result is a clear, light serum that brightens the skin, with none of the downsides of other vitamin C serums.

Cosmic Glow Oil

In 2019, Melissa Medvedich launched her indie brand Supernal on the Lunar New Year. Her Chinese grandparents instilled in her the importance of taking care of her skin, and Medvedich spent two years researching how to perfect her now cult-acclaimed Cosmic Glow Oil and Illumine Restorative Oil Serum (every bottle is still handcrafted in small batches by Medvedich herself!). In honor of Lunar New Year and Supernal’s third birthday on February 8th, Supernal will be offering a mini Cosmic Glow Oil and Illumine Restorative Oil Serum with every purchase on the Supernal website.

Good Light We Come in Peace Probiotic Serum

After an incredible career as a reporter, writer, and editor-in-chief of website Very Good Light, David Yi felt that the beauty industry was still lacking something — and thus, his skin care brand Good Light was born. The highly-curated skin care line offers clean, high-performance products (its Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion is an editor-favorite) with a mission to make the beauty space a more welcoming space for all.

Circumference Green Clay Detox Face Mask
Infused with green clay, this face mask will draw impurities out of your skin, leaving it hydrated. It’s best used on combination to oily skin.

Jina Kim started Circumference with the intention of combining her love of skincare with sustainable solutions. But Circumference has always veered away from greenwashing and vague claims of “clean beauty” — the brand is rooted in science, and has always been transparent about its sustainability efforts. Circumference lessens its carbon footprint while also optimizing its products efficacy by sourcing ingredients from plants raised happily in their native, bio-diverse environments.

Nail Artist Polish in Emma
Emelie Heath

As a Korean-American adopted by white Jewish and Christian parents, Emily Rudd struggled with finding her own identity, while also noticing how scarce the Asian representation was in advertisements and pop culture. Her search led her to brightly-colored comics, art, and beauty — and her nail polish brand, Emilie Heathe. The line is an amalgamation of all the places in her journey to self-acceptance, using Asian ingredients like bamboo, rice, and sea buckthorn to help strengthen the nails.

Inner Balance Serum
Strange Bird Beauty

Strange Bird Beauty was born from Tina Chow Rudolph’s desire to prioritize her own emotional self-care, while contributing to a future with more Asian representation in the beauty space so her daughter could see herself. The ingredients of Strange Bird Beauty, like ginseng and licorice root, have been used for thousands of years in Asian culture, and all of the crystal-charged products come with an intention to say aloud as you apply.

Texturizing Cream
Black Bean Grocery

Black Bean Grocery’s food-themed packaging transports you to Chinatown, modeled after the jars of traditional Chinese preserves lining the shelves of Asian grocers. Founded by Brandon Ly and James Bui, Black Bean Grocery’s product lineup seem to be mostly be volumizing and texturizing hair products, like a pomade, root powder (named after Chow Yun Fat), and a “Dai Lo” Styling Powder.

Nail Polish in No.13 Chili Pepper Red

Sundays Nailcare takes the therapeutic process of getting your nails done to the next level. The NYC salon is a soothing space without any pressure to socialize or talk if you’re having a low-energy mental health day. Founder Amy Lin also spent a year working with a chemist to formulate the perfect non-toxic nail polish formula that won’t chip for days.

Sound Renewal Moisturizer

Superegg’s name and concept is based off of the centuries-old Asian skin practice of using raw egg face masks to boost skin elasticity and brightness. Founder Erica Choi, a licensed esthetician and fashion blogger, decided to start her own business after working 10 years in the luxury beauty, fashion, and hospitality industries and seeing a need for a sustainable, luxury skin care brand rooted in Asian practices. The brand’s packaging is a standout, too — the moisturizer comes in a curved, egg-like shape, and Choi has pledged to work towards refillable packaging options by 2025.

Strangers Parfumerie
Yuzu Soda

Strangers Parfumerie is an indie perfume brand based out in Thailand. The owner and founder, Prin Lomros, created the line to capture whatever inspires him (be that his own memories, his favorite movies, or the music he’s listening to) through experimental fragrances — his fragrance Oliver is actually inspired by Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. His Parfums Prissana line draws directly from Asian mythology, food, and history, spanning from Russia, to Nepal, to Japan.

Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Treatment Serum

Glow Recipe, founded by Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, is one of the most well-known Asian-owned brands on the market — and for good reason. The brand has developed a cult following for its fruit-focused skin care products that feature innovative textures, high-tech delivery systems, and fun packaging.

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