Advice

Miss Information

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


Dear Miss Information,
Recently, I slept with a guy I probably shouldn’t have. He’s not only my best friend’s ex, he’s my ex’s best friend. For the record, my best friend said I could go for it. She meant it, too. She’s the kind of gal who usually doesn’t care about that sort of thing. Anyway, it happened at this party they were both at, and that was the main problem — they had to see us getting cozy and didn’t like knowing it was about to happen. They both got pretty angry, and I apologized for choosing my moment badly. They were starting to get over it and everything was looking fine, when I slept with him again. This time, they were nowhere around (i.e., they don’t know). My dilemma is whether or not to tell them. I feel like I’ve done nothing wrong, but I know she’ll be angry if she finds out. Part of me thinks it’s better to tell her, but she’s also said, "I can’t control what you do, I just don’t want to know about it," which makes me think she’d just rather not know. Is it okay to keep this one to myself? What’s the point of making her feel worse by telling her? — Feeling Guilted


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Dear Feeling Guilted,
Like you, I hear all kinds of conflicting opinions on this one. Some, like my sister, say it’s better get it out there. Others, like my BFF, think it’s better to hold back, especially if none of the parties are seriously involved and it’s a one-time fuck-up. Still others, like your friend, have views that are dependent on an ever-changing series of conditions.
You’re in an even tougher spot, because — unlike a not-laid-since-April advice columnist sitting at her MacBook waxing theoretical — not only are you actually going through this, you’re also the source of all these discordant emotions.
I’m missing some vital information here, and that is: How do you see this guy? As an occasional lay, or as someone you might actually want to pursue as a boyfriend? Is there a chance of this happening again, or has this recent bout of regret cast a cold front across the State of Vagina? Even with a good-girl’s resolve, do you often find yourself in situations where hookups with cutiepie are acutely possible — working together, living in close geographic proximity, moving in the same circles and so on?
If it was genuinely a one-time thing, deal with the guilty feelings on your own and keep mum. If you plan on doing it again (or, more likely, if you know yourself and know that your self-discipline will probably be lacking), I’d tell her what’s up. Not only what’s up, but what will be up — i.e., what may be happening in the future. "It’s just going to be sex," or, "I know this might be hard to hear, but I think this might be the start of something between me and John. I mean Joe. I think this might be the start of something between me and Joe."
Your friend’s going to feel hurt, and it’s not going to be the most pleasant of conversations. That said, it’s going to be much less damaging to the friendship than a cycle of sneak around/apologize/sneak around/get caught. Most sane people don’t put up with that dance for very long. Apologies are only as good as the behavior behind them. Be real about your intentions, and that’ll help you be real with others.
 

Dear Miss Information,
I am looking for a sex-education book for my ten-year-old sister. Our parents are fifty-five and very conservative. They haven’t talked about sex with her, so I can guess by now she’s gotten a lot of mixed up information. I live very far away, so I can’t just be there to talk to her whenever she sees or hears something confusing.
Every book I’ve found fits the "mom+dad=penis+vagina=baby" structure, and I think they’re crap. I would like something that defines sex as a wide variety of things you can do with your body and mind. The books I checked out didn’t mention anything about abuse, gender issues, or homosexuality. It’s all, "Don’t get pregnant! Don’t get HIV! Don’t sleep around too much!"
Do you happen to know a book or website or something of the sort to recommend me? We live in Argentina and speak Spanish, but I don’t have a problem with translating. — Nada

Dear Nada,
When I was ten, the majority of my sex education came from my pot-smoking, glue-huffing cousin and a 1985 Playgirl featuring nudie shots of Sylvester Stallone. I was about half that age when my parents schooled on the basics, and even though my young mind was sharper than the porous mush it is now, it would have been nice to have a refresher. Something I could thumb through without involving mom that would boost my standing at slumber parties. If a Smurf sleeping bag and faux Izods don’t win you any popularity points, being in possession of a dirty picture book will.
The first book that comes to mind is Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL. It covers everything from growing pubes to getting preggo and all the emotions that go along with them. There’s sections on masturbation, gay sexuality, rape and other topics not covered in all those other "Your you-know-what is a precious flower that will bloom when God, Mother Nature and Fox News say it’s ready." (Full disclosure, I’ve written articles for gURL and my gorgeous big sis is the creative director.)
There’s also S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College by Heather Corinna of Scarleteen, a must-bookmark teen-sex education and advice site. I often go there to do research for my columns.
Less sex-oriented but still fabulous is Life is a Movie Starring You: The Pesky Meddling Girl’s Guide to Living Your Dream by Jennifur Brandt. It talks about important topics like self-esteem, peer influences and body image while staying super-playful, engaging and fun. "Pesky meddling girls" like the ones Brandt describes are more likely to make good decisions and take better care of their bodies, so it all comes full circle to the sex-ed stuff.
Finally, there’s the old classic, Our Bodies, Ourselves, available here in a Spanish-language edition.
Readers, are there any other books or web sites you’d recommend for Nada’s blossoming young sibling?

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©2008 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com