Advice

Miss Information: How do you make the itch go away?

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Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

My boyfriend recently had his hours cut and is being forced to reconsider his job situation. The problem is that while he’s comes off as the macho-man type, he’s actually very sensitive and anxious. He’s scared shitless because he’s pushing thirty and still doesn’t know what he wants to do. When I try to talk to him about it, he pushes me away because it puts him in a bad mood. I think it’s a cop-out. He needs a wakeup call. I want to scream, “Grow up! This shit happens and you can’t pity yourself forever. You have a lot more control of the situation than you realize and could land the job of your dreams if you would only pursue it.” The thing is, even if I say this, he’ll get pissed off and wouldn’t listen, anyway. He needs someone else to tell him. We tend to ignore good advice from those closest to us. So how can I help him? Clueless on Giving Advice to Stubborn People

Dear Clueless,

I’ve been with depressive types. I know how frustrating it is when the person you love insists on acting like a pill, resistant to both nurturing and hard-ass interventions. You try tactic after tactic. Nothing works. You know why? Because you can’t fix something that’s not your problem. That’s not to say you’re not being affected by his problem. But it’s still his problem.

Take me. I’m blind as a bat. I make Mr. Magoo look like a regular sharpshooter. If I wear contacts, however, I can see. If my boyfriend wears contacts, it does nothing for me. Does my boyfriend have the right to demand I wear contacts? It depends. Am I doing cutesy stuff like mistaking his cell phone for a TV remote? Or is it more serious, like making him run interference as I trundle off the edge of subway platforms?

Judging from your letter, it sounds like you’re somewhere in between. I don’t want to bum you out, but you’re facing a tough road. What makes depression and anxiety such a bitch is that most of the manifestations are internal. I know I need contacts because anything that’s not immediately in front of me looks like a Monet painting. I don’t need a friend or significant other to confirm my suspicions. That’s a huge incentive to get help. But your boyfriend doesn’t have that, does he?

So what can you do if it’s not (directly) your problem? It’s time for an ultimatum, Clueless. Start with understanding (“I can see why this career indecision is making you sad”), transition into choices (“However, unless you go to a therapist, get a job, or embark on a formalized get-happy program”) and end in consequences, (“then I’m going to have to re-evaluate the relationship in XYZ weeks/months.”).

If you do this, he’ll have a clear picture of what needs to change, how he can change it, and when you’re expecting this to happen. Now all that’s left to do is reinforce what you’ve set forth, and see how it all plays out.

Dear Miss Information,

My new boyfriend asked me to shave my pubes. I said I was fine with that, as long as I could keep some grass on the field I didn’t like the idea of being completely bare. I’ve shaved a few times now, and while I don’t mind doing it, it’s the growing-in process that bothers me. It itches like hell! Friends have suggested waxing, but it’s too expensive, not to mention invasive. I have to psyche myself up for weeks before going to the gyno. There’s no way I’m going to pay money for that kind of torture. I already practice good shaving techniques (I read up) so I know that’s not the issue. Are there any lotions or powders that deal with this specific problem? The ones I’ve tried give you a few minutes of relief, then you’re back to the same itchy place you started. Suggestions? Epic Fail Girly Girl

Dear Epic Fail Girly Girl,

When I think of pubic-hair removal, I’m inspired to put my own twist on that famous verse by Dorothy Parker:

Scissors cause cuts; Waxing is pricey;
Clippers are blunt; Plucking is dicey;
Merkins can chafe; Shaving is rougher;
Creams stink to heaven; You’ll just have to suffer.

Let me make this clear: every method has it pros and cons. Even not shaving at all — which wins points for ease and convenience, but doesn’t offer guaranteed, widespread acceptance among sexual partners. (I know, it’s not supposed to matter. I’m a feminist, but when horny enough, I’ll take penis over principles.)

You can find a whole prison-cafeteria’s worth of bologna out there in the form of razor-company marketing dreck, bizarre home remedies from well-meaning friends (“I get smooth with a blend of crushed papaya and fennel seed oil!”), and how-to articles. I’ve tried it all over the years, and I’ve concluded that everyone’s skin is different and everyone has to find their own solution.

Mine is not to have one. I’ve come to accept the re-growth itchiness as a side effect of an active sex life, rather than continue to waste my time (and money) at the drug store. There is one investment I make: big, bulky, beautiful purses. They’re perfect for camouflaging a good scratch session. Swing that sucker around to the front of your waist and go to town.

Readers, how do you deal with your hair downstairs? Do any of you still believe in a magic cure-all?