Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,
My boyfriend and I just broke up yet again, after dating on and off for about a year and half. I'm fine with the break-up and I'm dating other people now and very happy about it. The only thing that still bothers me about our relationship is that my family swears he's gay. He's only dated girls (or at least as far as I know), he really likes going down on girls (I've never heard of a gay guy liking that) and we had really great sex. He does have quite a few gay friends on Myspace, and he does occasionally go to gay bars. Is My Ex Gay?


Dear Is My Ex,
It's really common after a relationship ends to go all Sherlock Holmes. You're feeling angry and hurt by this individual. You want some sort of external validation that makes it easier to detach, whether it's a questionable MySpace page or a bunch of friends sitting around a table, squirming uncomfortably as you force them to tell you what they never liked about him. (Most common answers: chronic halitosis and inability to stop bragging about his shitty synth-rock band.)
It's all right to wonder, just like the Mister Rogers song says. Just don't let it rule you. MySpace and Facebook stalking are acceptable. Not as acceptable would be joining a gay personals service and posing as sexybruce_4432 just to see if he responds.
My professional opinion? A large number of gay friends on a social networking site is a bit of a pink flag, especially if he only knows them through the virtual world. Lots of times people will practice new identities in this type of space before going public. Then again, maybe it's a weird coincidence or he knows a lot of Republican senators or something.
You're coming out of this with the upper hand — you're dating again and happy and over him — so focus on what you do have rather than what you don't. There are some questions to which you'll never have the answers. Even if you had an answer, it could change. Sexuality is never completely fixed. He could decide that yes, he was gay while he was dating you and then ten years from now change his mind. Are you going to continue to let your emotions be impacted by this or will you take the relationship for what it was and move on?
Want to know a quick, easy way to feel better? Go get yourself tested. This is always a good practice when a relationship ends and even more so when cheating is a question. I know it doesn't sound like that direct of a link, but knowing everything is squeaky clean on the STD front will do wonders for your closure. Seriously. I did it when my last relationship ended and I felt so good walking out of the clinic I almost high-fived my vagina.
In addition to sexy stock-photography doctor babes, the Planned Parenthood site has information on low-cost local STD testing. You can also get it from a private physician, but they don't always do the full battery, and sometimes the insurance companies will try to jack you, so ask questions and know what you're being charged for.

Dear Miss Information,
I am totally in love with my wife. She's sexier to me now than she was when we met. We've been married twelve years and all is well. But the longer we've been married, the shorter our sexual menu has become. Blowjobs are over and I'm okay with that. Sort of. But now she's so self-conscious that she won't let me go down on her any more. Plus her nipples (if you can imagine) are very sensitive so they're off limits too. Did you ever see the movie "Like Water for Chocolate"? Where the Mexican bride has sex for the first time under a big blanket with just a hole cut for her pussy? We're getting there. What can I do? What products can I use to make her less self-conscious about any smell that might emanate from her pussy (she says a douche will mess up the bacterial balance or some thing) and to make her nipples less sensitive? She's such a hot little minx — all I want is all of her. — Wants To Go Down

Dear Wants To Go Down,
She's right about the douching business. It messes with the vagina's chemical balance and makes you more prone to STDs, irritations, and smirky commercial quoting from pimply-faced fifteen-year-old Wal-Mart clerks.
Anyway, I doubt it would do any good. Massengill doesn't manufacture a variety called "Vinegar & I Don't Want to Fuck My Husband," and that's what I think she's trying to do. Or not do, rather. By limiting the variety of activities and placing narrow restrictions on the way they're performed, your wife is slowly but surely cutting off your opportunities for intimacy, both physical and emotional. The question is: Why?
Part of it's how long you've been married. Twelve years is a long-ass time. Hell, even two years is a long-ass time when you're dealing with the same set of genitals (and that pesky person attached to them) day in, day out. You don't say whether you have any kids, but if you do that's a factor as well — especially for the body-image issues. I get all freaked out when the razor slips and a fellow has to see a hack trim-job. I can only imagine what it must be like having someone go down on you after a couple episiotomies.
It's good that she's acknowledging her self-consciousness and it's nice that you're making accommodations, but that's not enough. You need to be talking about the underlying causes of those feelings and what might be done to help her feel like a sexual badass again. Whether that's therapy or couples counseling or simply some extended heart-to-hearts, I don't know. Just make it happen. It's only going to keep on escalating if you say "All right, honey," every time she says puts her hands over her lady-business and curls up like a pill bug.
Getting back to the physical, try taking showers before sex to help with her hangup about girl odor. There's also scented candles, incense, and Victoria's Secret body lotion. Note that I don't necessarily agree with the latter's marketing. I only recommend it because it is to body odor what ranch-flavored CornNuts were to alcohol breath in high school — the ultimate in masking aromas. Obviously don't put it directly on the area in question; a little around the thighs and stomach should do it. While you're at it, have her get checked out by a doctor, just in case her paranoia has a real-life physical cause.
As for her nipples, you could try touching her through a piece of silk cloth or a padded bra or just sit back and watch as she touches them in front of you. If you do get full access, put her hand over yours and let her guide the touch. Go easy, listen and watch closely for cues and take frequent breaks. I know all this sounds like instructions for handling Faberge eggs or defusing landmines, but having sensitive nipples sucks. Having someone yank on them when you don't want them yanked on is the epitome of awful — no "if you can imagine" about it. Good luck, Wants To Go Down. Hopefully we'll see you at the bottom.


Previous Miss Info

©2007 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com

Commentarium (13 Comments)

Aug 29 07 - 7:28am

Hmmmm....so having a lot of gay friends on social networking sites is 'a pink flag' is it? I guess there's no chance that a straight guy is able form relationships with people he doesn't want to fuck, huh?

The majority of friends that I have who use Facebook or Myspace regularly tend to be female or gay (and in a large number of cases, both). This in no way effects my relationship with my girlfriend: I just find that social networking sites happen to attract people who like to gossip, bitch, flirt, make jokes etc....which includes me as a straight man. I don't necessarily believe that this guy having gay friends signifies very much.

Aug 29 07 - 10:46am

I wonder if perhaps the wife is cheating on him. Are these all just excuses for wanting less intimacy with her husband? Jus wondering.

Aug 29 07 - 11:48am

I can't say I agree with the notion that being married to someone for 12 years means that sex should be expected to go downhill. My wife and I have been together for 12 years (married 8 years, engaged and living together before that) and the sex is now weirder and more fun than it ever has been before. This is also after 2 kids and 2 episiotomies.

Dude should get his wife reading Nerve. She'll find something that turns her on.

Aug 30 07 - 12:40am

To Is My Ex Gay?: probably not gay, but I'd bet my next paycheck he's bisexual.

Aug 29 07 - 2:47pm

What's up with this fixation on "feminine odor"? I can seriously only think of one time in my 32 years that I encountered a really off-putting odor coming from a vagina, and that was when I was 14. The poor girl probably had a yeast infection. I don't think that any of my lovers made special efforts above the normal hygiene, so I don't understand how all these products survive in the marketplace.

Aug 29 07 - 3:10pm

one word for you WL - capitalism.

Aug 29 07 - 9:27pm

It's summer. Girl odor exists. It's just not that big of a deal. The let's-shower-together trick is fine. You don't really need products. I wonder if you're too willing to medicate her, to buy bottles of potions to fix a problem Victoria Secret can't solve. It's easier to smear on some lotion but maybe just talking is the answer.

Aug 30 07 - 7:51am

I don't get why you would assume that that guy was cheating on his girlfriend. Even if he had strong homosexual feelings when he was dating her that doesn't mean he acted on them. Hell, straight guys generally have strong heterosexual feelings but that doesn't mean they are cheating on their girlfriends.

Aug 30 07 - 8:33am

Not to throw water on anything that makes you high-five, er, low-five your vagina, but don't forget that some STDs take a few months to show up in testing. So if the reason you broke up was when you found your ex in bed with Miss Practically Dripping With Disease, you can be thrilled when you test negative, but you should still be careful and get another test a few months later (ask the tester).

Aug 31 07 - 12:55am

Yeah, ironically I find that 99% of the time "vaginal odor" is being discussed outside the scope of a yeast infection or other non-standard situation, it's women talking about their own wrongly ASSUMED vaginal odor. I've encountered it exactly ONCE in over two decades of vaginal connoisseurism, and as the other poster said, that one girl probably had a yeast infection.

Women seem to have a HUGE hangup about this, yet it is incredibly, incredibly rare in the experience of every guy I've talked to, myself included. I think this guy needs to take a look at his wife's body-image issues or self-esteem first, before we start taking for granted that there really is something for her to be ashamed of. It bugs me that people are so ready to assume that she's justified in her weird body-shame. But as Miss Info also covered -- the main thing is to explore whether she might have an emotional hangup, hormonal imbalance issue, or some other dysfunction that's killing her sex drive and making these other things all just excuses. She's probably DYING for her husband to confront her and ask what's wrong, since she apparently doesn't have the balls (literally) to speak up and discuss it.

Aug 31 07 - 7:29pm

Erin, you & Dan Savage are the only advice columns I ever read. You're entertaining & smart. But straight guys can't have gay male friends? WTF? This is only an opinion, but I think that by erring on the side of gay-acceptance you missed half your answer.

Sep 05 07 - 12:18am

Having sensitive nipples really does suck. Some days just leaning over my desk and catching them on the edge will give me goosebumps. Having my nipples touched when they're sensitive brings on the same reaction in my body as the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

It's better at certain times of the month or after a long period of arousal (or an orgasm). If you're big into nipples, just please stay away from me.

Aug 10 10 - 8:08am
admiral obvious

I've been with my wife for 8 years, married for two, and the sex just keeps getting better. I pity those who think that sex naturally dries up.