Advice

Miss Information: Why doesn’t my partner like it when I go down on her? Plus: how do I get out of a relationship when I owe my girlfriend money?

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Why doesn't my partner like it when I go down on her? Plus: how do I get out of a relationship when I owe my girlfriend money?

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

Dear Miss Information,

I'm a twenty-one-year-old guy. The day after my last relationship ended terribly, I hooked up with a friend from high school. Flash forward to now, about two years later. My high-school friend and I are still together. We've lived together our entire relationship, and for most of it I was a jobless stoner, while she brought in the money.

She is a beautiful girl in her own way, but she has some weight issues, and she recently developed a skin condition. Both of these things make her wicked insecure. I tell her she's beautiful every day, but she has a need for outside approval, which she gets by flirting. This doesn't bother me, but she tends to hide her cell phone and/or delete texts, and when I do see them, I catch glimpses of guys texting saying how much they want to do her and how they'd do it better than me. She also once left me passed out in the car at a party, and I woke up to find her locked in a bedroom with three guys, a girl, and no clothes. I told her I wouldn't have been so upset had she woken me up and invited me in. Which is true: the act didn't hurt nearly as much as the exclusion did. But despite her dalliances, she says she loves me, and that she wants a family with me.

I don't really want that right now. I don't know if I'll ever want it with her. I enjoy her company, and sleeping with her, but I don't want to stay with her for life, and I haven't since that party. I feel like I owe it to her to stay because of the time she spent supporting me, but I'm not sure I love her anymore. I don't know what the right thing to do is. I'm worried that the "right" thing and my happiness are mutually exclusive. — Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed and Confused,

You know how when you're on an airplane, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on your own face before you help the person sitting next to you? You can't nurture and support another person until you have taken care of yourself.

As I read your last paragraph, I thought, "Nice, Dazed and Confused. You answered your own question." And I mean it: there was some real insight there. You have the clarity to make statements like "I don't really want that right now" and "I don't want to stay with her for life." Listen to those voices.

But that clarity is muddied by all of these complicating factors, right? Namely, your guilt over having been supported by her for so long, and your awareness that she's hurting and needs (male) validation. "Obligation" is not a good reason to stay in a relationship, especially a relationship as volatile as this one. She helped you out of affection and love, but as callous as turning your back on that might feel, you can't allow indebtedness to trap you. "I'm with you because I owe you" is not the same as "I'm with you because I love you." You're not doing her any favors by sticking around. As for the finances, you can repay her later, after you two have gone your separate ways, healed your wounds, and gotten your lives back.

At this juncture, D&C, your first priority should be to get yourself back on your feet. This means find your own apartment, cut off contact with her (or, at the very least, greatly reduce it and give it strict parameters), make your own friends separate from hers… and, uh, spend less time unconscious in cars.

This is going to be a really painful and drawn-out process, D&C, but periods of growth so often are. You're young! You've got a whole lifetime of functional, semi-functional, and "ugh, fuck" relationships ahead of you! The best thing you can do for yourself is invest in your personal development. This means learn who you are when you're not holding up one half of a messy relationship. It's especially significant that this two-year stint started as a rebound from your last failed relationship. You can't keep bouncing from girl to girl, looking for stability — stability has to come from you. Being single for awhile and setting down roots of your own would do you wonders.

Dear Miss Information,

I'm a forty-year-old male, married for seven years, but with her for ten-plus. We have two kids.

I love oral sex, but my wife doesn't. About a year and a half ago, at my request, my wife shaved mostly bald down there. This drove me nuts with desire, and I wanted to go down on her constantly. The problem is, she doesn't like it much. I know it's not me — I've read books, watched both girl-on-girl porn and instructional videos, and tried all sorts of techniques, angles, and speeds to find an approach she likes. But nothing is working. She just indulges me for a couple of minutes during foreplay, before urging me on to the "main event." Recently, I even tried analingus on her to see if that worked, and I absolutely loved it, but she, of course, didn't. So now I have two problems!

Is this normal? Is something wrong with my wife? I thought all women loved receiving oral? How can I tell her I want more, when she wants less? — Orally Frustrated

Dear Orally Frustrated,

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I was on board with your question until you got to the actual questions. What's with the rush to pathologize? Nothing is wrong with your wife. But there is something wrong with your approach.

Where did you get this notion that all women loved oral sex? Do all men like foot-centric porn? Do all men like having their hair pulled? Do all men like being tied up and called "Nancy?" In sexuality, there are no absolutes. Holding your wife to this imaginary standard is ultimately damaging to both of you — to you, because you think she's broken, and to her, because you're treating her like she's broken. Let that go; it's only causing stress. There is nothing less sexy than hearing, "Sweetheart, I think there's something wrong with you."

First and foremost, you need to figure out which version of "Lie Back and Think of England" your wife is experiencing. There's a big difference between your wife indulging the oral sex to make you happy, and her actively disliking it and wanting it to stop. Which is it?

If it's the former — if she sees how much you like going down on her, and puts aside her own boredom to let you have your fun — then she's a hell of a gal. Treat her "indulgence" like the generosity that it is, and repay her with generosity of your own. Do whatever it is that blows her mind, drives her crazy. Then you will have a mutually satisfying give-and-take, and everybody wins.

If she actively dislikes oral sex, though, then you need to stop. If she has made her displeasure and discomfort known and you persist, you're disregarding her feelings and sending her the message that your needs are more important than hers. And that's really not okay.

So assuming that it's Option A, and she's gamely tolerating oral sex because she loves you, it still doesn't change the fact that you love giving head and she's stifling her yawns. What's an orally-frustrated husband to do? Talk to her. It's simple, but it seems like you've spent more time consulting porn than consulting your wife. I commend you for doing your research on showing her a good time, but your protestations here — "I know my skillz aren't the problem! I did research!" — are more about preserving your ego than pleasing her. Let that attitude go. In bed, ego is the anti-boner.

Ask her how she feels about this whole thing. Ask her if it feels good, and if not, why. Ask her what she likes, what you can do differently, and really listen to her answers. Don't imply that she's wrong or brandish your stack of porn or get huffy ("The girls in Ass-Lickers IV liked it — what the hell is wrong with you?") Above all, respect what she has to say. It's her body; she knows what works. Worst-case scenario, she takes oral sex off the table, but by talking through it, you find something more mutually satisfying. In the end, when she's turned on, you have more fun, right?