gay_advice_column_bisexuality_depression_real_sexWe’re super excited to welcome Xander, who has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is a registered counselling psychologist, to Mambaonline as our resident advice columnist.


Dear Xander

I have been with my partner for more than four years now, and we have been engaged for more than two years. The thing is we had (safe) sex a couple of times during our first year/year and a half together, then stopped.

It wasn’t because of a discussion or anything, it was just too much of a “hassle,” if I can use that word. And one day we just realised that we haven’t had sex in more than six months. We then talked about it, and he feels it’s too painful for him and I feel it’s too messy for me.

Don’t get me wrong, we do still satisfy ourselves and each other by means of doing other things (i.e. oral sex, rubbing etc…), and we regularly ask each other if this is still what we want: a no-sex life. At this point, we are both happy and don’t feel like there is anything missing. We might not have intercourse, but we both feel that we are still intimate. We kiss, we hug, we cuddle, we talk, we walk our dogs, we take baths together: we love each other.

The thing that worries me is (I have Googled situations like this), and most of the search results have proclaimed that our relationship is not “real” because we don’t have intercourse. Others say that we are then just friends and nothing else because of this “lack” of intimacy. And I told my one friend about our relationship, and she declared that it is weird and that our relationship won’t last.

Are we being weird? Is there some communication gap between us because we don’t have physical intercourse? – J

Hi J

To answer your question at the end: “NO! No, you are NOT weird.”

According to a study focusing on the sexual activities of 24 787 gay- and bisexually-identified men, only 37.2% of participants reported anal intercourse as their last sexual activity. Of all activities, kissing topped the list with 74.5%, followed by oral sex (72.7%) and mutual masturbation (68.4%).

Not all men who have sex with other men, including gay men, enjoy or prefer anal sex. That is totally fine. By the way, the stereotype still exists that anal sex is only practiced by men who have sex with other men. This is not true: results from a Durex survey found that 8% of straight females and 19% of straight males enjoy penetrating their partners anally and 18% of straight females and 11% of straight males enjoy being penetrated anally. But this does not add up to a 100%; whether gay, lesbian, bi or straight – not everyone prefers or enjoys anal penetration.

The false perception exists that to have “real sex” one needs a penis and a vagina and/or anus and therefore penetration. Sex is so much more than just a penis and a vagina and/or anus. When we speak about sexual activities we can also use our hands, fingers, skin, mouths etc. to pleasure ourselves and our partners. Did you know that your skin is the biggest sexual organ?

Being in a relationship with someone you love involves feelings on various levels, not just sexual! Sexual activities, especially sexual intercourse, do not define your relationship with your partner.

Intimate feelings are deeply linked with positive emotions of warmth, connectedness, and caring, and are so important to human needs that this is the most central reward of close relationships. It further tells us that you can share intimacy with your partner in various ways, including intellectual intimacy, emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, creative intimacy and recreational intimacy, amongst other. From what you’ve told me, you are sharing these types of intimacy as well.

Don’t worry too much about not having anal sex with your partner – nothing wrong with it – it’s you and your partner’s preference. And that’s totally fine.

PS. – Be careful of believing everything that “Dr Google” tells you.



Hi Xander

How do I go about dealing with a parent diagnosed with severe depression, and currently in a facility for treatment? My mum was recently diagnosed and although she knows my boyfriend and I are both there for her I’m scared to say the wrong things to her. Do I try and make her think positively about certain things? What do I say when she has a bad day? Is it a good thing for her to live alone?

Please help! – C

Dear C

It is normal to be scared of saying the wrong things (because we are scared that we’ll make things worse), but at the same time we want to reach out to our loved ones and offer support as best we can. At times we don’t have to say anything. We just have to be there, in the moment, experiencing each other’s presence or listening to what our loved one has to say. Sometimes it’s ok to say “I don’t know” or “I am not sure” and “Let’s find out together”.

We ourselves might feel helpless, guilty or sad. These feelings are also normal as it is not easy to deal with a loved one’s depression.

Here are a few guidelines to address some of your questions:

1. Know what Depression is. Find out the various types of depression / mood disorders (and the one that your mom has been diagnosed with), the causes, as well as what the treatment options are. Visit the South African Depression and Anxiety Group website ( where you will find good resources.

2. Offer care and support to your mom. Being supportive could also involve offering encouragement and hope. This does not imply saying: “Every cloud has a silver lining” or “The sun will come out tomorrow”. Rather continue to let her know that you are there for her, tell her that you might not understand exactly what she is feeling, but you care about her and you want to help her.

3. Involve her in your life: Some people who have depression lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy before. Some also experience loneliness. Try to involve her in your activities but also arrange activities that she enjoys. Isolation and her living alone might be viewed as a risk by mental health professionals – it might be good to raise this with her treatment provider.

4. Listen: Being a compassionate listener is sometimes more important than giving advice. Encourage your mom to talk and listen without judgement. Remember, you yourself don’t have to offer professional help. Listen for clues that might indicate that her safety is in danger. Should these come to the fore, contact her treatment centre immediately.

5. Take care of yourself: When we give a lot of our time and energy to care for others, our own resources run dry. It is important to fill these up again. Set boundaries – know that there is only so much you can do to help. Don’t take on the responsibility of your mother’s therapist. Continue with your own life as well. The key here is to keep the balance between giving and receiving.



Hi Xander

My drama is starting to affect me emotionally and physically. I’m a young bi guy and have been dating my GF since high school. She’s wife material and I see myself having a future with her.


I love men more than women. I recently discovered that. I want to be happy and I see a man in my life but I’m afraid that I will lose my family and my reputation. I value my family a lot. I fell for this guy and we have been kicking it since and we’re growing closer. He’s a bi guy, has a GF as well. I want to be happy but I’m afraid my happiness comes at a cost.

Please help me make a decision. – T

Dear T

Bisexuality as a sexual orientation means you have the ability to have romantic, sexual, intimate feelings for or a love relationship with someone of the same sex and/or with someone of the opposite sex.

These feelings experienced are not necessarily at the same time or with an equal amount of attraction to both sexes. Because of the perception in society that there can only be one man and one woman (people of opposite sexes) in a relationship, we experience fear and guilt – as you have said; the fear of losing your family and your reputation.

So, you need to ask yourself: Do you want to be happy or do you want to sacrifice your own happiness to keep others happy? I can understand that it is a difficult decision – all choices have consequences.

Also remember that relationships are about the RULES between the partners. Whether you are in a monogamous relationship (exclusivity between two partners) or a polyamerous relationship (or ethical non-monogamy where there are more than two partners in a relationship – but still with rules) – there are rules set between partners to abide by.

If the rules in your relationship with your girlfriend are in line with monogamy, and you have a relationship outside the monogamous relationship with her then it equals cheating. You have to be aware of your responsibilities with the choices that you make.

Various possibilities might exist:
1. Discuss your situation and be open with your girlfriend and then decide whether you want to continue your relationship – taking responsibility for your choices.
2. Discuss your situation with your girlfriend and then explore ways to amend the rules in your relationship – again, taking responsibility for your choices.
3. Not tell her at all – but then again, taking responsibility for this choice (guilt feelings and trust issues?).

I can’t take make the decisions for you. But remember: you must also take responsibility for your own sexual health and that of your girlfriend and the guy you are kicking it with – always play it safe using condoms, lube, and other barrier methods if you engage in sexual activities.


Life getting you down? Having relationship hassles? Worried about your sex life? Need advice? Then Ask Mamba! As a registered counselling psychologist, Xander will answer your questions (no matter how personal) honestly, openly and caringly, within a week. Remember, we may publish your question and his answer on, but you’ll remain anonymous at all times.

So, in whatever area of life you need advice – career, relationships, sexual or family issues – Ask Mamba: Simply inbox us on now!

Please note: By submitting your questions to Ask Mamba, you agree to give Mambaonline the right to publish your question and Xander’s response. All emails are treated as highly confidential and no personal identifying details will be published.

Should you have an urgent problem that requires an immediate response then contact the OUT counselling line on 0860 OUT OUT (0860 688 688).

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