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“I’ve never felt so guilty in my life,” says Anmol. He’s been with his girlfriend for two years but lately he’s found himself fantasising about her best friend.
“I don’t want to mess up my relationship over something like this but I really don't know how to get her friend out of my mind,” says Anmol. “I’m turned on every time I’m around her.”
My mother invited all my relatives and neighbours to celebrate my first period.
People, some of whom I was meeting for the first time, were offering me congratulations on being a woman. I was a shy 11-year-old when I had my first period. I didn’t want the world to know that I was bleeding. But everybody knew and was happy about it. I was confused and embarrassed.
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Shashi Mehta is a 25-year-old media worker in Bangalore. Her story is part of our First Times series.
It was my mom who broke the news to me that I had got my first period. She was doing laundry that day and she had seen blood stains on my underwear. She called me and said, “You’ve become a woman now. There’s nothing to worry. It’s natural.”
After a while she told me that everyone in the family had to be informed of the good news. Before I could object to the idea, she picked up the phone and began telling family and friends that I was now ‘mature.’ Then to my surprise she invited a lot of her friends, neighbours and relatives home to ‘celebrate the moment.’
My mom told me, “That’s how it’s done traditionally in a Tamil Brahmin family. It’s auspicious when a girl gets her first period. And good news must be shared. For about three days, you can skip school because we’ll have a few rituals and a ceremony at home.”
For the next couple of days, my home was flooded with visitors. They were getting me gifts. My mom had dressed me up like a princess! I felt utterly stupid being the centre of attraction, receiving compliments from people about how pretty I looked that day.
I just wanted to be left alone to be able to deal with this change in my body. But I had no time by myself. The thought that I was in a roomful of people who knew about my period made me very uncomfortable. Something very private to me was now so public.
But there was no one I could speak to about this. I tried asking my mom if there was a way out of it. But she was offended. “Stop acting like a little kid. You’re grown up now. Every woman has period and there’s nothing wrong with people knowing about it,” she told me.
For a long time afterwards, I felt awkward meeting those people, who were present at the ceremony during my first period. When I look back at those days, I only remember the experience as traumatic and impersonal.
Instead of letting me cope with a huge change in my life calmly, I was pushed into making the news public. It wasn’t as though it was an easy situation by itself, but the whole approach just made it worse for me. If I ever have a daughter, I’ll let her decide what she does when she gets her period!
Shashi's name has been changed.
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