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I'm terrified my boyfriend is going to die in an accident. How can I relax?
By Cait Robinson
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
I need some help! My fiancée and I have a great sex life. We're mid-twenties, energetic, and willing to try new things within reason. Our big issue is that she cannot seem to orgasm. I've suggested seeing a doctor to see if they had any idea what could be going on, but she doesn't feel comfortable with that. Which is fine. I would never force her to do something she does not want to do.
What I can tell you is that she loves oral and intercourse. We have a vibrator she enjoys too, but we're due for an upgrade I think. The catch is, she cannot insert toys. She is not comfortable with that. So I guess ultimately my question is, do you have any suggestions for a toy that we can use that might help her climax? We're getting married within the next year, so money is an issue. I was hoping to keep it around fifty dollars — maybe more if you think it's that amazing.
— Hopeful Fiance
Dear Hopeful Fiancé,
Several elements of your letter had me with one foot in my Superhero Phonebooth ("I am CaiTron, who can destroy cities with lightningbolts! And can cook dinner for herself, like a frigging adult!"). Your fiancée can't have an orgasm? Medicalization of female sex drive? Zowie! Ka-pow! Hang on while I hike up all this Spandex!
But wait: she seems generally unconcerned, you respect her wishes, and you two seem to be working together to ensure that she's enjoying herself. Foot removed from phone booth, untangling self from costume. You're on the right track. All is safe in Gotham.
I don't have specific recommendations for toys, since everyone is built differently. You seem to have a good grasp on what she likes, and that's great. If there are any sex-toy stores in your area, it might be a good date night/surprise to take her to pick out something new. The tangible element makes a difference when shopping, plus it's always nice to keep money local, if you can. I would recommend scouting out the store before you take her, though — many of these places are seedy and/or excessively jokey, and both can be total turn-offs. (If there are paintings of sperm clustered around the entrance of the store, for example, you can probably cut the date short right there.) (I have been there, and it was awful.)
If your city isn't run by sex-positive hippies, don't despair: parts of the internet certainly are. Start at Babeland — this company was founded by women, which means they are especially lady-focused. Their stores and website are clean, well presented, extremely informative, and accessible. There are some great user reviews, too, so you and your girlfriend can get a sense of what a toy is like before she tries it. You can also get reviews on just about every toy ever made from the experts over at Fleshbot — it'll take some wading, but at least you can narrow down a list of things to look into. Maybe do some preliminary research, print out a few, open some wine, and enlist her help in poring over them — who wouldn't get into that?
From your description of her likes/dislikes, even a basic bullet vibrator to stimulate her clitoris during intercourse might be a cheap and easy starting point. And, reading between the lines — i.e. how many times you said "she is uncomfortable" — I think anything by Lelo could be good. They make high-functioning products with svelte designs that don't seem like sex toys at all. They're pricey but high-quality and stylish — potentially good for someone who may shy away from sex toys that, well, resemble toys.
Dear Miss Information,
I am an eighteen-year-old girl with a boyfriend of fourteen months. Everything is lovely, yada yada, all that jazz. We love each other very much and we have fun. The only problem is that I can't stop worrying about his safety. If he's at my house for an evening and he leaves when it's dark, I worry he'll be hurt on his way home. And not because he's doing something stupid — I worry he'll be hit by a car or something. I have even gone to bed on a few of these nights and had a dream that he died in the exact scenario that I worry about. It's like my subconscious is trying to freak me out.
I can deal with this when he's in the city (we live in Toronto). But, next week, he's going on a two-week trip to Vienna with the orchestra he plays in. Vienna is a) far the fuck away and b) a place you get to on a plane. I have never really had a fear of planes before, either for me or anyone else (I generally don't worry irrationally about my own safety), but I'm just imagining his plane going down in flames. And the same things that I worry about here (being hit by cars, etc.) are multiplied because he'll be so far away. I know this is crazy and irrational and I really shouldn't worry, but I can't help it. How do I keep from flipping out for the two weeks he's gone? I don't really want to constantly have this fear at the back of my mind.
— Polly Paranoia
Dear Polly Paranoia,
Have you worried about these things for the full fourteen months you've been together? Or is it a recent thing? Do you worry like this about anybody else in your life, or just him?
It is reasonable — especially with a relationship as established as yours — to ask him to check in from time to time. "Let me know when your plane lands!" or "Send me updates from Vienna!" are completely acceptable things to say. Same for "Hey — you're climbing out my window at in the middle of the night. Text me when you get home, okay?" It gets less acceptable when it is a 5 a. m. message, incoherently blubbering phrases like "mushroom cloud" and "Chevy Camaro" interspersed with teary snippets of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." But you know that. So let's make sure to put the brakes on before we get there.
While you can, and should, expect reasonable check-ins, internet while traveling is dodgy, he's out exploring, and you can't rely on him to prop up your sanity. The best way to stop unhinged thoughts is to realize that you control them. Because you do.
Here's the thing: when a bad thought starts bubbling up, you can either feed it or starve it. You feed it by paying attention to it; when you tune in, it grabs that focus and runs to the most perverse place it can, taking your sanity with it. You starve it by pulling back, looking at it, and refusing to engage. It takes practice, and it's not easy. But being eternally convinced your boyfriend is meeting his untimely death isn't easy, either.
Either way, it’s best to get a grip on your panic now, before it causes you any more nightmares. When one of these doomsday scenarios does surface, greet it as the “thought” that it is, not as “truth” or “likelihood.” Then kindly file it away and keep moving. Over time you’ll be able to catch these earlier and earlier, and they’ll have less impact on your mental climate. While you’re at it, put some thought into what’s going on beneath this paranoia. Maybe you’re afraid of losing him because you’re petrified of being alone; maybe the loss conjures up hurt from something earlier, like a parental divorce; or — even — maybe you wish you had more space. It’s entirely possible you’ve got too many eggs in this particular basket, and your subconscious is just trying to make you pay attention.