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Help! I'm Having An Affair And I've Got HPV, But My Lover Has No Idea!

Dear Armchair Psychologist
I am having a passionate affair with a man that is in a long-term relationship. I have never done this before (I've always been on the straight and narrow), and while we don't see each other often, we have an amazing connection and have become very intimate, very quickly. Yes, that means unprotected sex. My birth control is on lock, so I'm not worried about that, but I do have HPV and worry if I may give it to him and (worse) if his partner might get it, too.
In my defense, I did not know he was in a committed relationship when it all started, but since then I have obviously continued of my own free will, which leaves me worried about my karma.
I feel free when we're together; I don't yearn for him when we're apart, and think we'll be great friends in the future…. I am not the first person he has been unfaithful with, so that's on him, but I'm also responsible for my actions. Anyway… should I continue? I know I'm not going to get attached; he can deal with his situation on his own, I'm not responsible for his actions, and also it feels good. I am not sure if I need to tell him about the HPV, because everyone has it — I got it from having protected sex — and I've never had any other STD before, but what happens if his partner gets it? I can't go back to having protected sex with him from now on. That is no fun. How do I continue… or not continue? Please help.
- Torn Lover

Dear Torn Lover,

Thank you for sharing this dilemma, I am sure it is difficult to confront or discuss this matter. The circumstances you describe sound reckless. Judging from your own conflicted reasoning, you're well aware of this. Worrying about your karma pales in comparison to worrying about infectious diseases from unprotected sex. There are two things to address here, HPV and the Extra Marital Affair.

1) HPV, as you correctly describe is extremely common, however some types of HPV can also be dangerous and cause additional health problems like genital warts or cancer. Due to the gravitas of potentially developing cancer cells from HPV, and because if one were to develop precancerous cells due to HPV, there are preventative measures available like LEEP, it is only "karmic justice" that you inform your lover that you have HPV in the hopes that he may inform his wife so that they can both take action and control of their bodies.

2) Your lover is a married man engaged in a high-risk lifestyle. You said yourself that you're not the first person he's been unfaithful with, leaving you open to contracting various STIs, just as he has left himself exposed to contracting HPV from you.

It's great to have consenting non-monogamous relationships, but when it's under a guise of deceit, rather than honesty, it will gradually get less fun and more complex. You said you aren't emotionally attached to this lover and studies do confirm that individuals who can separate the concepts of sex and love are often likely to accept infidelity. However, since you've always been "on the straight and narrow," it becomes important to explore why you're deviating from this pattern.

It worries me that you are making excuses about your own culpability in this affair. Though you're not "responsible for his actions," you are an accomplice to his actions and the transgressions against his wife. In this article, Marc D. White, PhD, raises some great questions: "Perhaps the most important personal obligation that the single adulterer has is to herself or himself. Is such a relationship healthy for you? Does it fit with your goals regarding love, sex, marriage, children, etc.?" I recommend you turn to a therapist to explore your sexual desires, develop an approach to having an honest discussion about HPV, and unentangle yourself from this hot mess!

- The Armchair Psychologist

Help! My Lover Won't Stop Sharing His Penis Full Of Pearls!

Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm dating my upstairs neighbor who is super affectionate, loving, and everything I want in a man. We rarely fight, however, when we do it always ends with one of us breaking up with the other and going back to our individual apartments. Each time this happens, he goes to pull random women and has sex with them upstairs knowing that I can hear it.
This has now happened so many times I have lost count and I'm beginning to think that he blows up the arguments on purpose just so he can play the field. I have told him it upsets me and I need our "breaks up" to not involve others, but since he is not cheating on me, it falls on deaf ears. How do I make him stay monogamous during these times?
PS! He also has ball bearings in his penis (it's called pearling) so you can imagine the agony (and noise) of that kind of sex!
- Sounds of Pain

Dear Sounds of Pain,

I am sorry to hear you're in this prickly pickle (I couldn't resist, sorry) and that it's causing you angst. I may be a bit out-of-touch because I had never heard of "pearling" until now but will do my best to address the matter. Your neighbor is behaving like the single man that he is. He is choosing to have sex with other women when he feels like it. He never agreed to a monogamous relationship and for now that is what you are seeing play out.

If he's having sex with other women to "punish" you, then that certainly raises a red flag, and I'd advise you to quit this tryst immediately before you suffer further abuses. However, men who pearl their penises often do so to bring more sexual pleasure to a woman, and it's no small sacrifice to insert beads into your penis to accomplish this. Therefore, it is possible your neighbor could simply be a genuine Loverboy who needs a daily dose of sex, wherever he can get it?

It must be awfully convenient for him that you live mere feet away to soothe his desires at any whim. I suspect you are not on the same page whatsoever. (If you have a history of seeking unattainable men or find yourself in cycles of rejection, you should see a qualified therapist.) If you are interested in pursuing a relationship with your neighbor, I suggest you have an honest heart to heart with him and express your desire for a monogamous relationship. If he balks at this, don't clutch your pearls at the prospect of a future without him!

- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.