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Is my new girlfriend trying to make me jealous? Plus, Erin bids us a fond farewell.
By Erin Bradley
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
I've been dating my boyfriend for two years now. We've become very comfortable around each other. While this is great in some respects, one personal habit of his drives me up the wall. Whenever my boyfriend is relaxed, he has his hands down his pants. And I'm not talking about the usual "manly junk scratching." He goes full-on, hand-down-the-underwear, two-year-old-who-has-just-discovered-his-penis-and-is-scared-it-will-disappear-if-he-lets-it-go fondling. To make it worse, he gets rather smelly down there, and the stink gets all over his hands. I'm constantly in fear of him touching my face. I've tried hinting that it grosses me out, but he doesn't seem to get it. How do I talk to him about something so awkward? (Especially when I don't understand why men have to touch their penises so much to start with.) — Stinky
Men? Try everyone. Have you ever actually put your hand down your pants? I mean, really let it chill for awhile? It's quite lovely down there. All cozy and warm. I find myself doing it while watching Say Yes to the Dress reruns or talking on the phone. Of course, I try not to let my guy catch me doing it. I suspect he'd find it vulgar, like my habit of eating shrimp tails and peanuts with the shells still on.
I suspect your hints are too subtle. You're saying, "Ugh. Stop doing that, please," and he's hearing, "You're a slob, but it's also kind of adorable." It's the curse of the Oblivious meets the Non-Confrontational. You'll need something stronger than pinched facial expressions and offers of hand sanitizer to break the cycle.
Here's your opener: "I'm sure this sounds like a random subject, but I wanted to talk to you really quickly about a habit of yours I've noticed. Is now a good time?" An opening statement like this:
1) sets a casual tone and eases any fears that you're dragging him into a prolonged discussion, and
2) requires permission, which makes him feel like he's in control.
Now for the meat and potatoes: "I'm sure you don't realize how much you're doing this, but it really bothers me when we're together and you put your hands down your pants. Can you stop?"
Personally, I wouldn't compound it with the smell issue. "Hey, you're a slob AND you stink!" — those are two big bombs to drop at once. Plus, if he stops sweatpants-spelunking, smell won't even be an issue. Your letter doesn't say anything about his odor affecting your sex life, so I'm assuming he's clean when it's go time.
Does he deny or minimize? Offer to point it out and remind him. My boyfriend does this with the shrimp tails, and it's helpful. It's not that I enjoy grossing him out; it's just hard to break a habit I've been practicing much longer than I've known him. Does he think you're being uptight? Tough cannolis. He doesn't have to give it up altogether — just when he's around you.
You two have been together two years. You should be past awkward. He's going to sense something's up if you delay it any longer. The longer you wait, the greater the chance that he'll be mortified and wish he'd known a long time ago. I'm sure once he breaks this habit you'll feel more attracted to him and will want to show it. Your sex life will thank you, and so will your nostrils.
Dear Miss Information,
I've been with my new girlfriend for three months now. When we met it was instant kismet. We started off slow, and didn't get physical for nearly a month. Even though we are both happy, we're veterans of the romance wars with multiple scars. (Chicks dig scars, right?) I've been cheated on, but have never cheated. She's been cheated on and has cheated. Though we are happy as clams whenever we are together, something happened last weekend that I am having difficulty shaking off.
Her roommate has two guy friends who, according to my lady, are "nothing special" but manage to "get laid every night because of J-date." When she first told me this, I chalked it up to idle conversation. But Friday night, we went out with a friend of hers from out of town, and the dynamic between us was different. She was not the loving, affectionate girl I've been falling for, but rather distant, and more interested in talking with others than me. It felt as though I had to compete for her attention and I was losing. To make matters worse, we met up with her roommate and the roommate's horndog guy friends and my girlfriend quickly left me to talk to them. They didn't talk long, but I was disturbed by her eagerness to talk to them. She literally walked right past me. Later, she kept talking about them while we walked through the East Village.
I am a very confident person, and frankly, I don't give a shit if she has guy friends. But the fact that she was acting differently on Friday and her seeming curiosity about these two has me nervous, jealous, and a little angry. We had a good discussion about her change in demeanor on Friday. She admitted that she is nervous about being in a relationship, that she was acting differently around her friends. But we didn't talk about these two guys.
Do I bring this up? She will see them again I'm sure. I don't want to be jealous and I don't want to plant the thought in her head, but I certainly don't want to leave myself out there. — Here Is An Acronym
Dear Here Is An Acronym,
Health Insurance Association of America, is that you? Or is it Halifax International Airport Authority? Hydroxy-Indole-Acetic Acid? I'll start with some reassurance, then get into tactical recommendations later.
Reassuring Statement #1: People like to talk smack.
Why? Because it's fun. I'd rather know a hot bit of gossip about the person I'm about to meet than some boring-ass shit about the time he made gluten-free cupcakes. People spread dirt as a way of sucking up and trying to look like a big shot. Here's your girlfriend, nervous and in a new situation. She made a point of saying that the two guys were unattractive. Is it too much of a jump to think that she was simply trying to impress you? In hindsight, I'm sure she'd agree that talking about what other dudes do with their dicks probably isn't the best way to do it.
Reassuring Statement #2: People act weird in social situations.
...especially when they're in a new relationship. Someone who's showering a friend with attention while ignoring their date might be trying to say, "Hey, even though I've got someone, I haven't become one of those gross couples we always rag on. Please say you still like me!" But Miss Info, shouldn't they care whether their date likes them? They do care. But you can't be everything to everybody. She was trying to be friend, girlfriend, and flirty social butterfly all at once, and got her ratios skewed. It happens. Can you give her another shot?
Reassuring Statement #3: The power of suggestion is powerful bullshit.
You can't plant ideas in someone's head, just as you can't start a car by sitting in one. The keys have to already be in the ignition. We've all heard folks who say, "Then I figured I might as well, since they don't trust me anyway..." Yeah. No. The owner of my neighborhood drugstore watches me like a falcon every time I'm in there. I still know better than to steal. Initiating a rational conversation about cheating won't make your girlfriend cheat, I promise.
Now that you're off the ledge, what to do? Talk to her. Tell her you felt neglected the other night and a little jealous. I bet you a dozen powdered donuts that a tiny part of her was acting out and wanted you to notice, HIAA. Go ahead and give her that ego boost by telling her she was successful.
While you're at it, get clarification on those relationship nerves. Were they about her feelings for you, her feelings towards monogamy, or something entirely different? Was it just that night, or has she been anxious for a while now? That, not these two random dudes, is the problem that needs your attention.