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,

I know this sounds ludicrous, but I’m jealous of my girlfriend’s vibrator. If it were a guy in a club, I’d challenge it to a throwdown. Initially, I gave it to her as a gift. I travel constantly for work, and knowing that she’d get herself off while I was gone turned me on. Then I began using it on her in the bedroom, to win her over if she was iffy about having sex. Now she’s actually gone so far as to tell me she prefers it to the orgasms I give her using my dick and tongue. But my penis isn’t battery-operated, and my tongue can’t spin in circles at seventy-five RPM. I sometimes fantasize about hiding it or "accidentally" breaking it. How can I stop being so weird? Why can’t I just be thankful that my girlfriend loves sex and knows what gets her off? — Rabbit Run

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Dear Rabbit Run,

Your girlfriend may be a sexual dynamo, but she’s lousy at biting her tongue. It’s okay to love your vibrator. Mine often appears in my "Ten Things I’m Grateful For" weekly journal entry, but I’d never put Pinky (yes, I like to anthropomorphize) in direct competition with a partner. For one, it’s not fair. Mechanical- and human-induced orgasms are apples and oranges. Pinky may deliver more in terms of consistency, but he’s a one-trick show. Also, Pinky can’t respond to commands, engage in role play or whisper filthy nothings. Nor can he take me to the Frick Collection, cook dinner when I’m on deadline or make fun of Antiques Roadshow.
For two, it’s not respectful. I’m all about being a proud, sexually open feminist, but putting down a person isn’t an expression of empowerment. Could you imagine if a guy told his girlfriend, "That was nice, hon, but not as good as a porno"? There’s not a damn thing wrong with enjoying your masturbation routine, or even believing you can take care of business better than your loved one. But we need to be sensitive with our partners. Some stuff is better left unsaid, or at the very least, said over brunch to a few trusted parties while your boyfriend’s not present.
Before you grab a heavy object and go Rabbit hunting, I’ve got a few easy assignments for you:
1. The next time the missus talks up her inanimate buddy, gently tell her this bothers you. Emphasis on the "gently." For all we know, she may think that praising your purchase is simultaneously turning you on and paying you a compliment.
2. Set up some temporary sex-toy boundaries. Use the vibrator together only when you initiate. She’s free to use it whenever, as long as she doesn’t get in your face about it. Relax these rules as you get more comfortable.
3. Try experimenting with the old hips and lips. Maybe a few small changes will put you on par with her plastic friend. She’s gotta speak up for this to work, though. You’re only as good as the one who teaches you. Her participation is critical.

Dear Miss Information,

I’ve been seeing a kind, friendly man for about a month and a half. While I like him as a person and appreciate his generosity and warmth, we have a definite intellectual disparity, which is becoming more evident as time goes on. I don’t mean to come off as snobbish or egotistical I certainly don’t consider myself a genius but I’d appreciate more spirited conversation and wish he possessed a bit more zip. The problem, aside from my terrible guilt over judging him, is that I do enjoy his company and think he’s very nice. Is it wrong to continue seeing him for these reasons, knowing that I may grow more irritated with him as time wears on? Or should I break it off now? — Zippity Do Don’t

Dear Zippity Do Don’t,
Let me tell you about something I call the "Paper Test" and how it’s made me rethink everything I thought I knew about guys.
Every Sunday morning I like to do two things: 1. Eat bacon and 2. Read periodicals. While I’m perfectly content doing these activities alone, like origami and salsa dancing, they’re more fun with a partner. But not just any partner. Said partner has to be good at these activities. You’d think reading the New York Times and shoveling pork into your mouth would be easy, but not everyone measures up. Enter the Paper Test, which usually comes into play at my favorite brunch spot, on the first Sunday following an adult, overnight sleepover.
Here’s a breakdown of Paper Test scoring, which ranges from 5 (best) to 1 (worst).
5 – Guy reads and discusses stories in paper, expresses intelligent thoughts on a range of issues, proactively offers to share his bacon, makes a multitude of hilarious and/or inappropriate comments.

4 –
Same as above, but with no bacon offer and slightly fewer hilarious and/or inappropriate comments.
3 – Reads paper in silence, but offers an opinion if solicited. Requests turkey bacon instead of regular, then launches into boring speech about its benefits when informed the restaurant does not offer it.
2 – Picks up front section of paper and loses interest after cursory glance. Makes point of looking at my bacon and announcing he’s vegetarian, followed by, "But I’m not judging!" Spends the rest of the time staring off into space, sighing loudly and stacking coffee creamers.
1 – Claims paper is "full of lies and propaganda" and that he gets his news from underground, anarcho-communist journals. Upon questioning, reveals that Karl Marx was a silent film star of the 1920s. Eats my bacon portion while I’m in the bathroom. Flirts openly with the waitress.
I gave the Paper Test to the boy I’m dating now — the one I’m super-compatible with, love to pieces and have been with for over half a year. Like you, I appreciated the fact that he was kind, considerate and attentive. Yet I had serious doubts about his, as you put it, zip level and "intellectual capacity."
He scored a 2.

Normally I would have taken my bacon and high-tailed it for the hills. But on the advice of my shrink, I gave it a few more dates. And I’m so glad I did. He wasn’t dumb, he was quiet. He wasn’t slack-jawed, he was neurotic and pensive. He was thinking all kinds of thoughts, he just needed to get comfortable enough to express them.
Now I know he’s a sensitive, silly curmudgeon who loves chemical-laden diet foods but buys his produce organic. He’s a book snob who specializes in dense Irish literature, but will watch any romantic comedy as long as Anne Hathaway’s in it. Like me, he’s a mix of high- and lowbrow, a lover of people and full of contradictions. The only difference is, unlike me, he doesn’t let everyone know this within five minutes of meeting him.
Now that I’ve made you all sick and jinxed the fuck out of the best relationship I’ve had in a long while, I’ll leave you with this:
It’s good to have dating benchmarks for intellect, career, goals and all that practical stuff. But don’t focus so much on them that you ignore important realities, like how you feel with this person and how they treat you. If you enjoy being with him and share sexual attraction, give him a little longer to bring the pizzazz. Ask him to take you to something he enjoys. Put him in a situation where he’s the expert and you’re a novice. Be completely subdued on a date or share something embarrassing about yourself. Maybe he feels intimidated by you, and this will bring him out of his boyshell.
If you do all this and you still feel like there’s no one manning the Slurpee Station, you are free to go. Respect and intellect are too closely tied for you to compromise.


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