Advice

Miss Information: I’m my girlfriend’s first and I can’t get her off!

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

Dear Miss Information,

I met my ex-husband when I was thirteen, started dating him when I was eighteen, and married him a year later. He was dishonest; something I thought would get better as he got older. Stupid, I know. After two and a half years of marriage, I had had enough and filed for divorce. We’ve been split up for awhile now. I’ve been on a few dates, but I have trouble trusting the guys I’ve go out with because of my marriage. I don’t know what to do. It’s screwed up things with at least one guy who was interested in a serious relationship. — Finding It Hard to Trust Again

Dear Finding It Hard to Trust Again,

I’m sorry this happened to you at such a young age. Thank God that, at the end of it, you were able to legally drink alcohol. Unfortunately, Jim Beam will turn his back on you, just like your ex-husband eventually. It’s better to find a psychologist. Here’s my favorite therapist-finder tool (warning: cheesy-guy-in-turtleneck stock photography) as well as a decent how-to article.

Of course, I could probably use that as an answer for all problems. It’s an advice-columnist-auto-pilot answer. Here’s what I can personally tell you about betrayal in a relationship and how to get over it:

Step #1: Accept Blame
Not all of it — he’s obviously at fault — but like you said in your letter, there were warning signs you chose to ignore. Owning that choice will help you see your marriage’s end as less of a catastrophe and more like a series of events leading to a sad, inevitable conclusion. Events we can influence. Catastrophes we cannot.

Step #2: Accept That the Sky May Fall
…no matter what you do, so you might as well say fuck it. There’s no such thing as a 100% safe relationship. Even if your choices and behavior are impeccable, there’s always an outside chance that your partner will hurt you and vice-versa. Don’t want that? Don’t date. I’m not trying to be dismal, just helping you see the lack of alternatives.

Step #3: Take The Scenic Route
I’m not going to say you’re lucky, but there are worse decades to get divorced in than your twenties. Decades plagued by idiotic media representations of persons your age and books with “Dating In Your [insert age]” in the title. Ideally you won’t date for a bit, but if you do, focus on experiencing different types of relationships. There are others out there beyond the serious commitment. Interesting things happen when you lose that as your default goal.

Dear Miss Information,

My girlfriend and I have been together for almost a year. Although we started the relationship as relatively inexperienced lesbians — I was her first girlfriend and she was my second — we were open with what we wanted sexually and developed healthy chemistry in bed. She’s been getting really good, which is great for me. I get to come almost every night.

The problem is I can’t do the same for her, and I’m starting to develop performance anxiety. She noticed recently and asked me if I was okay, which has only made me even more nervous. To get over my insecurity, I’m thinking of having sex with other girls for practice. Will this work? I’ll be moving to a different city this fall to get my Masters and am planning to talk to her about it before I go. — Performance Anxiety

Dear Performance Anxiety,

It works in open relationships, but I’d wager that’s a side effect of the lifestyle, not a direct solution to performance problems. Monogamous relationships are a different story. Sleeping with other people to improve sex with your steady isn’t a particularly popular approach. I’m sure it’s unintentional, but you’re talking about sex — and lesbianism more specifically — as though it’s a skill you can quantify. No one’s judging you here, least of all a girlfriend who’s never been with another girl and with whom you share a promising sex life.

It’s a huge bummer when you’re getting off and your partner isn’t. Maybe you need to change the way you think about her orgasm. Stop assigning yourself so much responsibility. Why does the person helping the orgasm along get all the credit and distinction? Why not the person who, despite their partner’s inconsistent technique, manages to maintain focus on getting off? Not to brag, but I’ve orgasmed under conditions so adverse I could be a goddamn Navy SEAL. And that takes skill. Sorry to toot my own vagina. I think you should be proud of your ability to orgasm and take that as one of many possible bits of evidence that you’re a good lover.

Of course you want to be even better. I feel you. The fact that you got more nervous when she noticed your anxiety leads me to believe you haven’t done a lot of talking about the subject. That’s the next logical step, not going outside the relationship.

Reader, have you ever slept with someone besides your significant other to get better at pleasing them? Or is that just crazy talk?