Hi Dr. NerdLove:
I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 4 years. We have been so happy and I have not felt any issues in my relationship. If anything, I felt he was more affectionate in our relationship. Sex has been great and regular.
2 weeks ago, we went on a snowboarding holiday. It wasn’t the best holiday (due to weather and place) but we just got on with it. On the last day, I noticed a girl had messaged him asking if he is having a good ski holiday. Obviously I thought it was weird and asked him why a girl is messaging him that. Maybe asked in a angry way, but I felt it was very odd and had never seen her message before.
He replied with she’s a girl from work, trying to make friends with everyone. After a 2 hour cab journey in silence. I got over it and left it. I apologised if I seemed angry and just explained how I saw it was weird. But I don’t think he has gotten over it.
When we come back, out of the blue he now thinks we have nothing in common and he has no feelings for me and can’t be bothered with the relationship anymore?! Unfortunately this happened the day the UK went into lockdown, and we are living together. We sat down and chatted about it, I explained that it is possibly to do with everything going on around the world at the moment. He is insisting that it’s not and it’s the way he feels. He hasn’t kissed me and doesn’t cuddle me in bed anymore. I am giving him as much space as I can, during this time.
How can I get him to see that it just a pissed off stage and that we are actually ok?
Stuck In Limbo
I think that you’re looking at a false dichotomy here, SiL. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation — that either it’s the COVID-19 pandemic that’s got your boyfriend down OR he genuinely feels like he’s checked out of this relationship. It’s entirely possible for both things to be true: he’s been having doubts about this relationship and the circumstances of life under quarantine are exacerbating negative feelings.
And if I’m perfectly honest, I’m not sure things are ok.
Let’s look at what brought you to this place. There are times when it seems like a person’s reaction vastly outweighs the circumstances that triggered that reaction. Take, for example, that one tiff seems to have caused your boyfriend to feel that he’s not that into you right now. That seems like it would be a bit of an overreaction to a fairly petty squabble. If all it took for him to suddenly decide that your relationship is over and he actually doesn’t like you all that much because you had one fight… well, honestly, I’d wonder how the hell you got through four years together. That would be a pretty big indicator that this was not the strongest of relationships to start with.
And while it’s not impossible that you two have managed to thread that particular needle consistently for four years — hey, in an infinite universe, weird shit can happen — it’s pretty unlikely.
The odds are better that this is something that’s been bubbling for a while now, and that the fight you had at the end of your holiday was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
But at the same time, I’ve got a suspicion that this fight wasn’t a first for you two either. Maybe I’m wrong, but getting on his case for someone asking him an incredibly benign, even banal question seems like something that would be kinda weird coming out of the clear blue sky. Getting your nose out of joint over someone you don’t know saying “hey, had a good time on your trip?” is as much of an overreaction as one fight being all it took to end the relationship. And if this were literally the first time this ever happened… well, that’d be another marker in the “it seems like you two stayed together through sheer luck” scoreboard.
So I think you may need to take a long hard look at how you both have been acting and feeling over the last few months, even the last year. If this isn’t the first time you’ve gotten suspicious or jealous about people he knows, then it could well be that this has been a grievance he’s been sitting with for a while.
The question here is whether it’s even possible to pull things back from the brink, especially since the world is on lockdown and the two of you are stuck with one another. Normally in these circumstances, I’d advocate for having an Awkward Conversation, where you explain how you’re feeling, what you would need or want and how that would make the relationship better, before giving him a chance to share his side of things.
That ain’t gonna work here. You’re going to need to actually do the inverse. You’ve done a lot of explaining to him how he feels or should feel and that’s not helping. Trying to fix things between the two of you is going to involve a lot less talking and a lot more listening. If he’s having doubts and believes his feelings have changed, then you’re going to need to give him room to share how he feels. And that means just listening, without trying to correct him, object to his interpretation of things or otherwise steer the conversation. It sounds to me like he’s got a lot of things on his mind and things he hasn’t said. And honestly, it’ll probably hurt like hell to hear them. But like lancing a boil, you’re going to have to put up with the unpleasantness in order to get to the healing.
And that’s assuming he wants to make things work.
Look, I’m not gonna lie: this is a Hail Mary pass at best. He may not be interested in trying to fix things. But if you are going to make the attempt — or at least be able to live together temporarily until you can find another option — then you’re going to have to have a moment to let him unburden himself and then see where you two stand.
Dear Dr NerdLove,
I’m a 26 year old college guy from NYC. Found you on Spotify so I’d thought I’d reach out. I saw you posted some interesting posts and found the courage to ask.
Due to my religious beliefs, I do not and have not engaged in premarital activity with a partner, since that I’m reserving for my spouse to be. Being the case, my self-consciousness about when that time will come – and whether I’ll be goofing around in bed and making a fool of myself, and whether I have what it takes to please does occupy my mind quite a lot.
I’m super self conscious particularly about my male organ and it’s length – being that I hear that’s a sign of masculinity and was wondering if you’d care to let me know – a one time thing – if my member (a pic I’d send) seems large enough to engage with and please someone. This is coming from someone who doesn’t masturbate much and hasn’t explored that area – again, due to religious beliefs.
Please let me know if that’ll be ok.
Ok first of all SS: thank you for being a non-COVID related letter; this is a much-needed break from being neck-deep in pandemic-related relationship questions.
Second of all, I’m kind of astounded that it took me nearly 8 years before I got a “hey tell me how my dick looks!” email; I’m fairly certain that most of my female colleagues in the advice industry got one as soon as they decided to start a column.
But no, SS, don’t send me any pictures. I don’t need to see it, and sending me photos won’t actually be of any use outside of an aesthetic critique of your photography skills… and you don’t want that. But more importantly, my opinion on the matter isn’t going to make a damned bit of difference. What you need are facts.
So here’s a fact for you: according to a study by The British Journal of Urology International, the average penis is approximately 5.16 inches long and approximately 4.95 inches in circumference while erect. People who fall outside of the standard deviation (that is, anyone with a penis longer than 6.3 inches erect or smaller than 3.94 inches) are uncommon; only 5 people out of 100 would fall on either side of average. So you’re almost certainly somewhere near the center of that particular bell-curve… like most folks out there.
And there’s no correlation between penis size and masculinity, testosterone levels, shoe-size or any other indicator of anything other than the genetic lottery. So having a penis of any size is just an indicator that you have a penis of that particular size. There’s no actual judgement about the person that you can derive from it. You can, however, make some critical judgments about people who’ll give you shit for it… mostly that they’re assholes.
Similarly, there’s no correlation between penis size and pleasure during intercourse. While there are men and women out there who like ’em big and girthy, that’s a matter of personal taste, not a universal truth. And frankly, a lot of women out there will tell you that men with larger dicks are often worse lovers than ones who’re more average or modestly endowed. Dudes with big penises have a tendency to think that they’ve done their part by showing up and assume that their massive wangs will do all the work for them.
In reality, good sex has far less to do with penis size than a can-do attitude and a willingness to listen. The vast majority of women — somewhere between two-thirds to three-fifths — don’t orgasm from penetration alone. Most women require direct clitoral stimulation in order to get off, and penetration by itself is rarely going to give the direct, continual stimulation they need. In fact, the things that make it much more likely for women to achieve orgasm during sex include oral sex, manual stimulation and deep kissing — not penetration. So if you want to be a great lover, then you’re going to need to de-prioritize your dick and think far more about your hands and mouth.
Being a virgin doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be bad in bed, any more than having a thousand notches in your bedpost means that you’re some kind of demon lover in the sack. Focus on connecting with your partner, giving them room to share what they need in bed and be willing to take directions without your ego getting caught up in it. And while you’re at it? Start getting familiar with yourself. Masturbation isn’t just a way to get yourself off, it’s a good way to learn about your own needs so that you can share THAT information with your partner as well.
Besides… it’s sex with someone you love.
Dear Dr. Nerdlove:
I’m a middle aged gay man who is friends with a younger straight man from work. We have a number of common interests that have nothing to do with either sex or work, so we spend probably a couple of weekends a month together socially. He and his girlfriend come to my house for dinner once a month or so. I would characterize our relationship as best friends without benefits.
About six months ago I went through a really difficult time in my life and he was there for me completely above and beyond what would have been a reasonable expectation on my part. So much so that I would really like to do something for him to show my appreciation.
The problem is that I can’t figure out what to do for him that would clearly and unambiguously be appreciation rather than interpreted as a sexual come on. I have no desire to change the basic nature of our relationship into a sexual one, which is probably why we are able to be such close friends. I’m afraid that if I do something really extravagant, that it will be misinterpreted and might end our friendship.
So, how does a gay guy extravagantly show appreciation to a younger straight guy in such a way that the straight guy understands that it’s appreciation and nothing more?
That’s What I Appreciates About You
Honestly, dude, I think you’re overthinking things. If you and your bud are as close and on as good terms as you say you are, I don’t think there’s much risk of his thinking that you’re hitting on him or hinting that you want more than friendship. I mean, if you’re buying him tickets for the two of you to take a trip to the Riviera together, that might raise some questions. But a simple gift — or even just telling him that you appreciate him and what he’s done for you — would hardly be out of line, nor is it likely to be misinterpreted. I don’t think you need to buy him some incredible gift to let him know that his friendship is important to you. I imagine just using your words would be more than sufficient and be just as welcome and appreciated as any present.
But if you really want to get him a gift, then think simple and heartfelt. Maybe a bottle of his favorite booze, a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant so that you can treat him to dinner when social distancing is lifted and we can all go out to eat again… these are all gifts that he’s most likely to take at face value. Include a note saying “thank you for being a friend” and you’re good to go.