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’m in trouble with my girlfriend. I won’t go into details, but it’s as if you and I spoke on a Friday, and during that conversation you told me the sky is blue. Then on Monday we talk, and you say that the sky is red. Am I doing something wrong if I mention that, three days ago, you said the sky was blue? As far as I can tell, I’m showing you that, yes, I do, in fact, pay attention to what you say, and I remember what you tell me. And if you contradict yourself and I ask for clarification why am I in trouble and required to apologize? This happens to me constantly with the various women in my life.  And I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I’m not being sarcastic or patronizing. If I am, I’m completely unaware of it. Your entire half of the species confuses me, often to the point where, really, I want to drink substances found in the Roofing section at Home Depot. Big Sigh
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Dear Big Sigh,

Using gender as an explanation for relationship misunderstandings has always struck me as bullshit. The science is iffy at best. For every study that says gender differences are innate, there’s another that says it’s all about social engineering. Plus, what are gays supposed to do? Get together and decide who’s the boy and who’s the girl? What about transsexuals? I’d rather look at life with a broader lens, and see all people as individuals.

Now let’s look at the way you and this individual are communicating.

What happens: You repeat something she says.
What you think: I’m showing her I pay attention.
What I think: You’re showing her that you’re irritated.

What happens: You ask for clarification.
What you think: I’m showing her I care enough to get it straight.
What I think: You’re trying to verbally trap her.

Think about the last time you used a big word and a friend used the same word back at you, only two seconds later, with a different pronunciation. You felt corrected, right? Defensive, even. Now imagine that happening twenty or thirty times with the same person. You’d get to the point where you didn’t want to say shit to the person, ever again. Especially if the person denied they were correcting you. You’d feel like you were going crazy. It would be so much easier to deal with Ronald the Syllable Policeman if he just admitted, "Look, you’re right. I’m being kind of rigid. It’s just my thing. I have a problem when people don’t use the proper pronunciation."

Let’s look at more of your wording.

What happens: Everyone I date says I correct them too much.
What you think: Girls are sensitive!
What I think: You’re not accepting your share of responsibility.

What happens: You get "in trouble."
What you think: I’m being unfairly punished.
What I think: You’re blaming the person you upset for being upset.

The general rule is if everyone is telling you that you’re doing something annoying, chances are you’re doing something annoying. You can either try to change that annoying quality, or you can hang out with people who aren’t annoyed by that annoying quality. It might be as simple as thinking of alternate ways to win an argument. Maybe this is your go-to tactic, and it was okay to use once in a while, but now your girlfriend is fatigued. Are there occasions when you could just drop it? If you’re going to contradict her or bring up the past and you feel it’s absolutely necessary and pertinent, keep it confined to that one issue.

Being with someone who is a hypocrite isn’t necessarily bad. It means their opinions are still forming. We’re all hypocrites in one way or another. When it comes to human relations, being empathetic instead of accurate will get you a lot farther.



Dear Miss Information,

I’m committed to safe sex, but I can’t get off when wearing a condom. I try and try, but I just don’t feel anything, and eventually my girlfriend and I both get bored and/or sore. She’s offered to go on the pill, but I we’ve only been dating three months. My last girlfriend cheated on me, and though I really want to, I’m just not in a place where I can completely trust someone. Now my girlfriend’s frustrated. I am, too, but I think she’s being too demanding. I always get her off, then get myself off later, when she’s not around. She wants me to stroke it in front of her, but that makes me uncomfortable. Of all the times we’ve had sex, I’ve only finished twice. Please don’t suggest the female condom. We tried it before; the look, feel, and sound were a disaster. We’ve also tried a few different condom brands, but they all feel the same. Please End the Trojan War

Dear Please End the Trojan War,

Orgasms are nice, but I want my partner to moan like a baby seal coming out of surgery. I want him to get so confused, he French kisses the headboard, blacks out temporarily, and comes back thinking "Sapphire Begonia Wristwatch" is his new name. It’s lovely that you’re making her naughtiest tingle, but what’s going on is more complicated. What she’s looking for doesn’t necessarily start and end with a genital contraction. She needs your validation. Is that demanding? No, but I think she needs to scale it back a little. Three months isn’t that long to hit your fuck-stride, especially if one person is still nursing wounds from a fucked-up relationship.

What can you do? Keep trying different types of condoms, like this 2009 World’s Best Condom Sampler, which includes the Crown Skinless Skin. It’s made of latex but doesn’t smell like latex, is a porn-star favorite, has a pretty pinkish hue, and is Japanese-engineered to be amazing. There’s also the Pleasure Plus, which make your penis look like it has a sidecar (i.e., pretty silly, as I can personally attest) but feels so good you’ll keep pulling out to make sure you’re not riding bareback.

Also, change the way you’re using the condoms. Test multiple types of lubes (water- or silicone-based) in multiple places (inside the condom, outside the condom, on her, on you, etc.). Some hetero couples are lube-averse because if the female’s already wet, it seems unnecessary. Fine, but isn’t ten bucks worth it to rule out another factor? Lube isn’t just for squares, old people, and uptight Christians. Say it with me in drippy, rainbow-striped letters: Lube is for everybody! It’s time for a rebrand.

It’s also time to extend the foreplay. For ridiculous periods. More teasing, oral sex, and handjobs. Less masturbating. Let the fact that you can’t come inside her be your license to finish in ways that are ridiculously dirty. Let loose on her breasts, her stomach, her back, her thighs. Let her lick it off your hand. I know you’re shy, but you have to get over it. She’s asking you to wack off in front of her, so we already know she’s adventurous. Do it with the lights off or get (a tad) wasted. Deprive yourself of orgasm for a week or two. See if you don’t whip off that condom and jack it all over like an animal.

Bottom line: She wants to see you come, Trojan War. In all your goofy, self-conscious glory. Show her that you honor and recognize that. Hopefully you’ll get to a point where you’re coming more regularly, or feel trusting enough that you can lose the prophylactics. If you’re still in this standoff several months from now, you might want to look into therapy. Insecurities and mental blocks may be conspiring with your dick. A good shrink will show you ways to overcome that.



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