Miss Information

The guy I'm dating won't commit. Is he a free spirit, or a douchebag?

by Cait Robiunson

Have a question for Miss Information? Email missinfo@nerve.com.

Dear Miss Information,

I'm prone to getting vaginal infections and often have to apply one or more creams to my labia. This makes me paranoid about how I taste. I'm not in any kind of serious relationship right now, so when I'm getting head, it's not usually with someone I feel close enough with to say, "Hey, I just had an infection — everything taste okay down there?" Do you have any tips, on either how to gauge what I taste like or how to taste a little better? (No douches or flavored lubes, of course!) Or do you have any ideas on how to communicate about this in a way that doesn't kill the mood? Please help!

— Gagging For It

Dear Gagging For It,

I am home visiting my parents, and am typing this from my childhood bedroom. Tacked to the wall behind my head are my corsage from prom (my date had good taste), three certificates for belt levels completed in kung fu ("Aim for the knees"), Spanish candy wrappers, and other flotsam from a time I am so fucking glad to have left behind.

I mention this because proto-Caitlin has got opinions, and she wants to share them.

So, first, I get it. And the Caitlin with terrible taste in music has this to say: "Make a point to take a shower. Have him chew gum or suck on a mint before, just in case — but make sure the mint isn't so strong as to irritate your nether delicates. Light incense, light candles, throw down a smoke bomb for some alluring mystery. (Plus, the smoke will block his nasal passages, making it harder for him to smell and taste!) Spend as much time and money as possible buying creams, scents, and salves to stave off the indignity of your filthy, filthy girl-body, because what are you, an animal?"

Did I mention I am so glad to have left that time behind?

Here's the deal. You can cover and mask and airbrush all you want, but ultimately, sex is going to be messy for both of you. You don't need to be locked into an LTR, but getting naked is better with someone you trust. What's the point of sleeping with someone with whom you don't feel comfortable enough to say, "Hey, if it tastes like pharmaceuticals, stop?" Many of us think we need to spring from Zeus's forehead as fully-formed sex goddesses, but that misses the vital "learning curve" and "communication" growing period that each of us has to go through. Let go of the pursuit of casual-sex flawlessness, and put your energies elsewhere: vet your partners enough that, by the time the skirt gets hiked up, you can talk or laugh about anything that might happen.

From there it's just details. Really do shower before, even only for your peace of mind: the less you worry about your taste, the more present you'll be. (Invite him in with you, if it keeps the action going.) Do acknowledge the issue while glossing details — "Hey, I'm a little concerned about this lotion I'm using. Switch things up if you're not into it!" And avoid sex when you're in the middle of treatment, since guys can get yeast infections too. Ultimately, though, this is less of an issue of aesthetics than it is an issue of communication and trust; investing in those will lessen the worry on everything else. If I'd thought that way in high school, I would have been a lot more fun.

Dear Miss Information,

About two months ago, I met a guy on an online-dating site. We agreed to meet and go out for a few drinks. I didn't have high expectations because I hadn't been very successful in the romance department over the past year — lots of first dates and little more. But this man and I seemed to really hit it off. On the first date, we spent the entire night together and even engaged in rather nice makeout session. Fortunately, we didn't go all the way on the first date.

We have a lot in common, and we learn so much from each other. We've spent, on average, about three or four days a week together over the past couple of months. It seemed like everything was going great, but recently, he's gotten distant. He doesn't call or text me as much and doesn't seem to want to hang out. He says he's busy at work and that he hasn't been going out at all. I don't know if I should believe him or if I should take the hints that he's lost interest.

I should mention that he's one of these free-spirited types who doesn't like to be "put into a box" when it comes to relationships. He says things should grow naturally and not be forced. I agree with that sentiment, but I already know that I have genuine feelings for him. There've been several moments where he's said or done things that indicate he has feelings for me as well, but then other times he seems completely ambivalent.  

How do I convey my feelings without making him feel like I'm trying to force something that might not be there? More importantly, is it feasible to have a platonic relationship with him if he does indeed reject me romantically? I could handle losing him as a lover, but I would hate to lose him as a friend too.

 Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Dear Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,

"Free-spirited type," doesn't like to be "put in a box." I take it these are his words, not yours? Just a guess: does he work part-time at a coffee shop and mention his DJ career ad nauseum? Or does he paint? Ten bucks says he owns a guitar.

Sorry. I must be missing Brooklyn. Bludgeon-answer: his excuses about his natural inclination toward "going with the flow, man" mean he's just not that into it. People work for things they want. His self-definition as a box-free individualist might not be quite so resolute if he were chasing the relationship.

Keep in mind, though, that his ambivalence does not equal you not being good enough. It's not that you somehow failed to hold his interest; it's that he's failing to meet you where you want to be. Maybe he's not into you, maybe he's callous about relationships, maybe he just really needs to finish his novel. Whatever. If his head isn't in the game, it isn't in the game — so sidestep heartbreak for you both by acknowledging that without fighting it.

You should still talk to him, because his word is more important than mine. Make it something like this: "I miss our marathon conversations. You know I'm into you, but I can't keep trailing behind. I want to know your point-of-view on this." Now listen, but keep your excuse-o-meter dialed in. If his reply includes a monologue about a girl who broke his heart five years ago, thus forging him into the dark-souled poet he is today, get out. If he self-defines using vague buzzwords ("just like, a visionary... going through some stuff..."), call it a night. You're looking for a real engagement, a frank discussion of what each of you want and what might possibly be hindering that. Anything short of emotional honesty is not worth your time.

The good news is that, if a relationship doesn't work but you do decide to stay friends, you as the dumpee get to set the pace. (...Yay?) You can become friends, but only if you're clear on your motivations. If you invite him to drinks thinking, "Maybe after my third Blue Moon, I'll accidentally fall on his face with my face," cancel the plan. But once you get to a point where you can appreciate his company with no ulterior motives or unfulfilled wishes, you're golden. It may take awhile, but it can be done.

Want to meet someone committal? Check out Nerve Dating.

Commentarium (26 Comments)

Feb 26 12 - 3:42am
Cynthia's Name

LW 2: The clearest answer here is that it doesn't matter if he's really a free spirited-type or just a douchebag, as the headline put it: the point is, you and he have different ideas about what you want out of this relationship and how you choose to deal with your feelings. Even if your two world views/approaches/attitudes are both completely legitimate (and, for the record, I think his is a crock of shit) they are incompatible.

More, though: I think it's good that they're incompatible, because this guy sounds like an emotionally stunted loser who you are well to be rid of. Emotionally mature people know how to talk about what they want and don't want, they aren't afraid of discussions about emotions and commitment and the dreaded L Word, and they can handle the difficulty when one party wants something different than the other. They don't pull the passive-aggressive trick of pulling away and making you guess (or, worse, hoping you'll take the hint) what is going on with them. And they know that "things should happen naturally" is very often a code for "I refuse to engage in anything serious, and don't ever make me actually define our relationship."

I'm not clear on why you would go to this kind of effort to salvage any kind of relationship with this guy, let alone a friendship, but at the very least you should be clear-headed about his -- pretty severe -- limitations, and decide if that's really what you want.

Feb 26 12 - 9:30pm

+1, great answer. Miss info's not bad either.

Feb 27 12 - 3:25pm

"The clearest answer here is that it doesn't matter if he's really a free spirited-type or just a douchebag." Exactly! I'm trying to steer one of my friend through this right now, and she seems obsessed with figuring out what's going on in his head. The truth is, regardless of exactly what he's thinking, he's made it very clear he doesn't want a relationship with her. Cut him loose.

Feb 26 12 - 10:48am

Why are these responses so bad lately. Last week it was "call your stalker week" and this week it's "fuck with an infected vag just worry about the smell" and "let that dumb guy break up with you again" week.
LW1: If you are putting any sort of medical treatment on your labia, you should not be having penetrative sex or oral sex. NO SOUP FOR YOU until it heals.
LW2: He already broke up with you it just did it passive aggressively because he hopes to keep you in back up rotation. Move on.

Feb 26 12 - 5:54pm

Good calls by Gah. Listen to Gah! This week truly was the week of official misinformation.

Feb 26 12 - 12:15pm
Felipe Arcano

@LW2 your question seems to be misguided. Your issues are not his issues, nor are his yours. If he is a douchebag then why keep on piing for his attention, if he is a free spirit it is for you to decide if that is the level of commitment you are looking for. Seems to me you are projecting your insecurities on the outcome of this "relationship." What's up with women and unrequited love? http://www.whatsupwithwomen.com/fun-relationships-women-unrequited-love/

Feb 26 12 - 12:48pm

Person #1--I am sure you have tried a lot of treatments. Have you been to a nutrition specialist? An M.D. who specializes in nutrition gave me some advice about my diet that has changed my life. I have not had a single yeast infection in 4 years after her following her advice, which was to try a reduced-carb diet. (I've always been a veg and a very healthy eater.) I went for another problem, but she connected that problem to near-constant yeast infections, too. Worth a try!

Feb 27 12 - 8:47pm

Love the emphasis on alternative diets! I considered this route but didn't want to bore everyone with my "just wander through a forest-grove of pixies!" hippie-health leanings. Thanks, commenters, for doing it for me.

Feb 29 12 - 10:10am

Indeed, address the root problem! Regular infections shouldn't be shrugged off. Confirm what you have, as many different types of vaginal infections can have the same symptoms. Beware of soaps and detergents and watch what you wear! Soaps irritate and synthetic undies and tight clothes can create a pro-infection environment. Finally, probiotics, probiotics, probiotics! The good bugs help keep your vag at the right pH and prevent the growth of a lot of other nasties!

Mar 02 12 - 3:03am

I agree with the advice above. But if you're in a pinch and need a quick fix, I recommend douching with a combination of 1 parts hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts distilled water. I've done this when I'm not feeling fresh and it totally works. I've had lovers rave about how great I taste.

Apr 14 12 - 6:15am

I've heard eating just plain youghurt is also a good way of keeping things on check re: yeast infections.

Feb 26 12 - 1:30pm

Aw man, I really could've used BBB's advice a few months ago.

Feb 26 12 - 2:04pm
A Reader

LW1: Soap and water should go a long way toward getting rid of any lingering taste from medicated creams. A shower isn't always practical before sex, but any bathroom where the sink is in reach of the toilet can be used for an improvised bidet-style wash. Sit on the john, scoop up some (ideally warm) water in one hand and transfer carefully to your crotch. Soap up, and rinse by the same method. Dry by dabbing, not wiping, with toilet paper to avoid leaving little bits of paper behind. This method works for both men and women, and for butts too.

Feb 28 12 - 6:12am

Using soap (unless it is pH-balanced soap for this specific purpose) is a good way to GET a yeast infection.

Feb 26 12 - 10:55pm

LW1: Before you worry about fixing how you taste, how about doing the obvious and checking how you taste? Just do it. I know it seems odd to alot of us ladies, (why we're that squicked out by ourselves that this occurred to neither the LW, or Caitlin is a whole 'nother issue...) but really isn't that easier than obsessing about something that might not be a problem at all?

Feb 27 12 - 8:49pm

True--though you're inherently gonna get a diluted taste on your finger, compared to what someone with their entire mouth on you would notice, you know? But good point; de-squicking is a great idea all-around.

Feb 27 12 - 10:05am

gah nailed it.

Feb 27 12 - 10:42am

I knew TONS of "hippies" in college who used their whole free spirit thing to be druggies, alcoholics and whores with no thought to others' happiness. After a year or two of meeting the same kind of people I realized they were just assholes.

Feb 27 12 - 2:46pm

LW1: Try an anti-fungal diet (look it up). It's tough for a while (no sugar (not even fruit!), booze, etc) but it should clear that up so you aren't so prone. Also, might be good to get tested to see if you have candida.

Feb 27 12 - 3:24pm

LW1: If it's been less than 12 hours or so since you used the cream, he's liable to get a mouthful of it when he goes down on you. According to my boyfriend, it tastes terrible and made his mouth numb, so it is probably advisable to skip oral if that's the case. The cream doesn't change the taste of your vagina or anything though, so once all of the cream has worked its way out (~24 hours?) you should be fine.

Feb 28 12 - 1:02am

Dude, Athena was one of the three virgin goddesses, so she wouldn't've known jack diddly about sex.

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Feb 28 12 - 4:25pm
mr. man

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Feb 28 12 - 10:42pm

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Feb 29 12 - 4:37am

The current Mr Mar-Mar was working 14 hour days when he met me. Sure, I might have had to wait most of a day to get a response to a text, but he shifted things around so he could see me as much as he could. The thing about men, that took me 27 years to learn, is that when they want to be around you, they're going to do whatever the Jeebs it takes to get to be around you. That whole 'He's Just Not That Into You' thing, it makes me sick to say, is true...And if you're thinking about the long-term, he's not likely to become more attentive. Hold out for someone who's worth it!

Mar 01 12 - 9:48pm
hearts and darts

Cait, you're too funny. I love your writing and you give great advice.

And yeah. The whole 'He's Not That Into You" is scarily true. The only people who deny it are the ones caught up in games like Lw2.