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’ve been with this man for almost five years. We live at his house, where I pay rent and split everything 50/50. He refuses to consider any sort of commitment, such as getting married or letting me buy into the equity of the house. His ex-wife was an alcoholic and he’s scarred by a bad divorce. He gets paid about one hundred times what I do. Good for him, he works hard. But he sinks all that money into fixing up old cars and going on expensive hunting trips with the boys. When I get upset over all this he gets that "I want to be a bachelor again" look. I am stupid, right? Is it time to throw this one back and find someone who is kind and appreciative of my cooking and cleaning and everything else I do?— Standing By My Selfish Man



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Dear Standing By,
That’s a pretty sweet deal your man’s got over there. His mortgage and utility bills are cut in half, he gets a free toilet scrubber and personal chef while continuing to build equity in his home. That’s a gravy train with a solid-gold caboose if I ever saw one. I’d ride it until the wheels came off.
You need to come up with a plan that protects you financially and accounts for the disparities in income, whether Dick (I know you didn’t say his name, that’s just the first one that came to mind. Crazy, right?) likes it or not. Going halfsies on everything may be logical when you’re splitting dinners and movie tickets, but not any more. One day you’ll want to pull together a down payment and you won’t be able to because you poured all your cash into someone else’s home.
Go online and learn everything you can about financial planning and the legal rights of unmarried couples. There’s something called a "cohabitation agreement" which outlines how expenses will be split, what happens if you break up, who pays the mortgage and so on. You can get one through a lawyer or you can buy the software and draft one on your own.
It’s normal to be paranoid after a bad divorce, but Dick needs to stop being such a pussy. There are ways to merge your finances and remain independent of one another. If you can’t convince him, maybe a face-to-face meeting with a financial planner will. If he refuses, go by yourself and make him review the literature you bring home.
"Okay, Miss Info," you’re saying. "I’ve made my needs clear, removed all the obstacles and Dick’s still stalling." Then it might be a good time to acknowledge that Dick’s always going to be Dick. Either you can live with Dick being Dick, or you can dump Dick and move on.



Dear Miss Information,

I think I have an addiction and it’s not to alcohol or drugs. It’s bareback sex. I’m a gay male in his twenties who hasn’t been out of the closet very long. I always practice safe sex but the other day I had an anonymous encounter with someone I met online. We met up, there was a little foreplay. We never talked about condoms. After a while, he just kind of mounted me and shot his load inside. It felt so good! It’s all I can think about but I know how risky this is and I don’t want to die. I’m already planning my next bareback experience. Condom sex isn’t good enough now. How can I convince myself to stop? — Raw Dawg


Dear Raw Dawg,
Volunteer at an AIDS hospice. Make friends with someone who has HIV and ask them how much they’re shelling out for their medication. That ought to be enough to put out your pink cigar.
If not, you need do everything you can to get yourself excited about condoms again. It doesn’t feel as good as bareback, I know, I know. But neither does having your dick fall off, or dying. Experiment with textures and flavors, try new brands. Try donning a Kimono, a Japanese prophylactic that’s been called "the Cadillac of condoms" and supposedly outshines other brands. (Readers, do you agree? Yes? No? Any other brands Raw Dawg should try?)
When you meet your online hookups, stay away from alcohol, drugs and other inhibition-lowering substances. Put a safe-sex message in your ad and limit your responses to ads with similar content. It’s far easier to control yourself when you know the forbidden act is not a possibility.
If you’re going to go ahead and ignore me, at least check out this article by Michael Scare, which outlines some "Safer Barebacking Considerations." Some argue that encouraging these practices is like saying there’s a "safer" way to crash your car into a brick wall, but I don’t know. Sexual behavior falls on a continuum, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to account for varying levels of risk. Then again, I’m just one (mostly) hetero girl and I don’t claim to understand all the ramifications of such a complex issue. I do know that heteros go bareback all the time and it doesn’t end up on the six o’clock news like it does with gay men. The media doesn’t seem to latch onto it until there’s a fetus involved. But that’s another column…

Dear Miss Information,

I feel like I’ll never live up to my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. She was his girlfriend all through high school, and they broke up when she moved away for college. He still keeps pictures of her on his wall and talks about her all the time. During the holidays she was in his hometown so he went to visit. Afterward, he started acting really rude and edgy. I confronted him about it. He told me (in no uncertain terms) that I would "never be her," but later apologized and said it was just the pain of an old flame talking. I forgave him (I have my own hang-ups), but a week ago he told me that I had nothing to worry about anymore. I asked why, and he told me that he had asked her to come back and she said no. Even though he hadn’t actually cheated on me, he fully intended to leave me if given the opportunity. My boyfriend has been one of my best friends for nearly six years. We’ve only been dating for four months. Should I forgive him, or do I hang up the gloves now and try to save our friendship? — The Silver Medal


Dear Silver Medal,
Is there something else you’re not telling me? Are you cheating on him? Stealing large sums of money? Did he give you a kidney or something? If not, dump him. He’s making you unhappy and undermining your self-esteem. And for who? This girl? She can’t be that cool if she put up with your boyfriend’s shit for so long. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" that’s my girl Eleanor Roosevelt talking. You’re consenting, Silver Medal. You’re doing more than consenting, you’re handing over your pride and dignity in a gift-wrapped box.
I know you’ve got this friendship thing going on, but I think it’d be best if, right after the breakup, you two didn’t talk. For a few months, anyway. It’ll help strengthen your resolve and rebuild your self-worth. Busy yourself with all those cool friends and extracurricular activities you’ve been blowing off and know that any loneliness you might feel is nothing compared to the bullshit and drama this dude brings to your life.
I’m off to print this letter out, frame it, and refer to it the next time I want to bitch at a boyfriend over something silly, like eating all the crust off the top of the macaroni and cheese.
 

 


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