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 am sleeping with two guys. Both know it’s casual. I am really enjoying the arrangement, but I’m finding the condom issue tricky. I am on birth control, and I trust Guy A enough not to use condoms but not Guy B. I want to start using condoms with Guy B to protect Guy A. How do I go about asking Guy B to use a condom when we haven’t always used them in the past? The last time we were together I couldn’t bring myself to push him off me and go get the rubber in the other room. — Safety Dance



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Dear Safety Dance,
     When you go for a ride in a friend’s car, do you feel awkward about putting on your seat belt? Do you wait for "just the right moment" to don something that’s painless, takes two seconds and could very likely save your life? No, you don’t. You put on your seat belt because you know it’s moronic not to and that’s that. A condom shouldn’t be any different. You have common sense on your side, and there’s no need for an elaborate explanation, much less an out-and-out lie. But I know that’s pretty utopian, and I’m guessing you want something more practical to say the next time you and Guy B are about to bump uglies.
     You’re lucky you have a vagina, Safety Dance. They have a reputation for going on the fritz, and therefore they’re a rich source of excuse material. If you can’t muster up the nerve to ask Guy B to use a condom flat out, why not tell him that you suffer from frequent yeast infections, bladder infections and infection infections, and that condoms help prevent them from coming back. Unless you’re dating a gyno, you’re probably not going to get called on it, though it may put a damper on the oral sex.
     You could also make up a story about a relative or friend who just had a pregnancy or STD scare. It worried you so much, Safety Dance, that you’ve decided to be Miss Clean and Pristine with all your partners from now on. Surely, Guy B will understand. I don’t like lying, and I consider it pretty crummy. But if it will get you to use condoms, it’s a worthy exception.
     As for the "rubber in another room" dilemma: Hightail it to the nearest gift shop. Get an adorable/funny/beautiful/wacky container, fill it with condoms and place it by your bed. It’s much more fun and romantic to say "Honey, there’s a present for you inside Hello Kitty’s head" then getting up and rooting through the medicine cabinet under stark fluorescent light.
     Above all, open your mouth. You’re hot and smart enough to be rocking two men. Stop worrying about looking like a dork.



Dear Miss Information,
     I’m in a three-year relationship with a woman who has issues regarding commitment and self-esteem. She refuses to marry or move in together, even though that’s what I want. Last August she was diagnosed with colon cancer. The prognosis is good, and she’s recovering. I have supported her and helped her through this trying time, but now I want out. How do I gracefully remove myself without further damaging this fragile person? — Spineless in Seattle


Dear Spineless in Seattle,
     Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like the relationship was unsatisfying long before cancer entered the picture. You were probably contemplating breaking up with her, but then her illness threw a wrench in the works. You had to put your own needs aside while you helped her. Now that the situation has stabilized, those issues are cropping up again. Cancer’s the kind of experience that can bring people together for a short time, but it can also drive them further apart. Most often, couples are left with what was there in the first place, which is what you two are experiencing.
     I know you don’t want to be "that guy" the guy that dumps a woman with cancer. Listen, your girlfriend may be sick, but she’s still got her intelligence and pride. I doubt she’d want you to stick around if she knew you weren’t in love. Treat this with more TLC than a regular breakup. Assure her that you’re still there for her and continue to take an active role in her treatment (going to doctors, running errands, helping with shopping, etc.) Cancer can be very isolating, and you don’t want her to feel abandoned. Expect some backlash. Then again, be open to the possibility that she might feel relieved. Maybe she wanted to end it as well but couldn’t. Let her feel how she wants to feel, and don’t let her negative emotions discount everything you’ve done for her.

Dear Miss Information,     
     I have recently started dating after the breakup of a long-term relationship. So long, in fact, that waxing was not something that everyone did last time I was single. I am not a hairy girl, and I keep everything trim myself, but is that enough anymore? Do all guys expect Brazilians these days? — Hedge Trimmer

Dear Hedge Trimmer,
     Please excuse me while I go all Seinfeld for moment: Pubic hair. What’s the deal? Why are you guys so obsessed? Every week I get a shitpile of letters dealing with this topic. People want more, people want less, people want to know what look is "in" this season. Meanwhile, people are getting away with murder with the hair on their faces (Dave Navarro, Paul Giamatti) and on the top of their heads (Melanie Griffith, Donald Trump). If we paid a little more attention to the hair that’s publicly visible instead of obsessing over our genitals, the world would be a more beautiful place.
     To answer your question: I don’t think there’s any one "standard" hairstyle that guys expect. Genitals are a grab bag for both girls and guys, and you never know what you’re going to end up with: wet, dry, small, large, bumpy, smooth, you name it.
     You can’t go wrong with good hygiene and a nice trim. That’s certainly enough to re-enter the dating population. If you want to pay someone $80 to dump hot wax all over your hoo-hoo, have at it. Pubic grooming is a personal choice, and you’re not going to get any flak from me. But do it because it’s going to make you feel confident and sexy, not because you’re assuming it’s what all guys expect.
 

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©2006 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com