Advice

Miss Information: My friend plays fast and loose with her STD. Am I obligated to warn her dates?

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My friend plays fast and loose with her STD. Am I obligated to warn her dates?

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

Dear Miss Information,

My wife snores sometimes. So do I, but it bugs me more than it does her. We already wear earplugs at night. Sometimes when it's really bad, I tell her I’d like to sleep on the couch, and she gets upset. She wants us to keep sharing the bed for what feel like legitimate reasons: it makes her feel safe and comfortable and helps her feel more intimate and romantic.

I want to get your advice: Am I doing the right thing by staying in bed with her? I've agreed to, though I may get a little frustrated. I don't mind making the concession, although I fear her snoring gets in the way of my productivity. I know she doesn't like it when I'm sleep-deprived and act a little wacky or get upset as a result. But I love her and want to do what makes her happy, so I put up with getting woken up by her snoring lots of mornings and getting up an hour or two before I planned. Am I making too big of a sacrifice? Am I putting my health at risk? Or is this a legitimate compromise, since I don't want to hurt her? — Sleepless Not Anywhere Near Seattle

Dear Sleepless,

Everyone needs a good night’s sleep. What that entails means something different to everybody. I tend to sleep for a few hours, wake up and dick around for while, then sleep for a few more hours. Like you, I worried about the health implications, especially after reading newspaper trend pieces connecting lack of sleep to everything from heart disease to divorce. Then I read this New York Times article which says that back in ye olden days this kind of sleeping pattern was completely normal. Ben Franklin used to get up for hours-long nude “cold air baths” (how’s that for a mental picture?) and we all know how much that guy got done.

In the end, I feel fine, Sleepless. How about you? Are you tired once a week? Once a month? Have you ever drifted off somewhere important, like behind the wheel or at work? If so, or hell, even if not so, your wife is going to need to give a little. Chronic low-grade problems often turn into big problems later. There are steps you can take to get the wife to warm up to it. Being in separate beds can be romantic, in its own dysfunctional way. The key is working in some R&R. That stands for Rules & Ritual, not Rest & Relaxation, though hopefully the latter will also be an outcome.

Examples of Rules include:

• No sleeping apart when we’ve been arguing

• No sleeping apart more than 2 nights a week

• No sleeping apart on weekends

The Rituals can be stuff like:

• Tucking her into bed and telling her a ridiculous bedtime story

• Sending lovey-dovey goodnight texts once you’re in your separate rooms

• Buying her a stuffed platypus to hug or giving her one of your pheromoned-up t- shirts to sleep in

You obviously need to figure out what works best, but you get the idea, right?

The idea is to let her know she’s loved and cherished, something that may not be evident if, after two hours of deep sighs, you’re grabbing your pillow and stomping out of the room. She’ll agree to a test run if she values your happiness as much as you seem to value hers.

Dear Miss Information,

I need some advice. My friend is sleeping around, and I know for a fact that she has herpes with active lesions. She never reveals this to her partners. She’s a party girl who goes out, gets drunk, then brings home whoever’s handy and does the deed — usually unprotected. This is easy for her because she’s very sexy. I’m sure these guys are either too horny to care about condoms or so drunk they don’t notice anything’s amiss. I know she’s got some emotional problems. I don’t think she’s come to terms with her diagnosis or what she needs to do to take care of herself. I’ve tried everything I can think of to help her, from sending her articles from WebMD to just being a listening ear. It doesn’t matter whether I’m non-judgmental or a bitch – nothing seems to get through. What’s my responsibility here? Am I supposed to take guys aside when I see a pick-up in progress and warn them, or is that going too far? — Ambivalent Tattle Tale

Dear Ambivalent Tattle Tale,

You have a friend that plays fast and loose with her virus; other people have friends who down a bunch of Hefeweizens and get behind the wheel. You can refuse to go along with her when she’s on one of her manhunts or try to talk her into a nightcap of pie and coffee instead of penis, but that’s about the extent of it. She’s going to get up to no good whether you’re there or not, much like the friend who goes out for Booze Cruise Part II two nights after you took his keys. At least with this she’s not going to kill anyone. Herpes can be a huge pain in the ass (and other places) but it’s generally not fatal.

No one “deserves” to get anything – good or bad – but the guys she’s bedding do have a role in this. You can’t fuck a stranger without proctection and expect a good outcome. Yes, condoms don’t completely protect against the big H, but they’re more effective than nothing. STDs aside, what about pregnancy? Are you supposed to follow your friend around the bar with a chart that details the cost of supporting a child for eighteen years? Even if you devoted your life to it, you could never protect everyone against every little thing. No one can do that. Not the world’s best Jewish mother. Not Aquaman. Not even Jesus.

Reinforce her good behavior and do your best not to facilitate the bad. I have a few friends I can no longer hang with in certain contexts because I know they’re going to go unhinged and do things that drive me batshit. Make up an excuse or just tell her the truth. She’ll probably pout, but you have the right to have a good time without compromising yourself morally.

Dear Miss Information,

I can’t make human connections. I’m male and in my early thirties. I should be settled down by now, or at least on my way. I never seem to be able to engage with women on the level that they want. Past girlfriends have called me everything from cold to emotionally immature. I get in relationships just for the sake of being in them and then dump the person or get dumped. It’s like I’m trying to prove something. What, though? About the only benefit I get out of it is sex. My therapist says I should take a break from dating. I’m open to the idea, except for the lack of sex it would entail. Do you agree I should take a break? If so, for how long? — Misspent

Dear Misspent,

Take a break. Why not? Early thirties is not that old (that’s like, twenty-five in New York City years) and you don’t have to worry about your biological clock ticking. It’s better to be alone for a while, work on yourself, and try to understand why different women are all giving you the same feedback than it is to continue what you’re currently doing. You can get sex from a fuck friend, or, barring that, from your hand. Celibacy sounds insurmountable at first, but it gets easier after the first month or two.

So go ahead. Eat. Pray. Love. Or just let your apartment really filthy and grow a beard. Try to work in some time for some journaling sessions, self-help books –  and continue with the therapy. Hang out with people you want to be like – guys and gals in healthy relationships and singles who have their shit together. It’s cliché as hell, but your high school guidance counselor was right – you pick up the habits of the company you keep. As far as time, six months sounds like a good amount. You can always bail if you need to.

Readers, Misspent says he’s going to go with majority rule. Should he take a break from dating? How long? One month? A year? How should he cope with his…uh…needs?