The Death Throes of a Doomed Relationship
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because it’s much better to be part of the answer than part of the problem.
By Eugene S. Robinson
Haircutting for Happiness
EUGENE, SIR: How far is too far when it comes to a fetish? I can predict that when I shave we have more sex. Since I only shave once every two weeks, when I’m at the end of this shaving period we have less sex. He said that he prefers me hairless. I said it was time-consuming. He said so was brushing his teeth. I said that I thought his hairless fetish might be tied to a sexual interest in children. I was joking but he said that if he wanted to have sex with someone as hairy as he is, he’d have sex with men. So now we’re barely speaking to each other. I don’t think I should give in on this, but is there a way to fix this? —CK
Dear “Calvin Klein”: Yow. That devolved really quickly. And now you’re both in Entrenchedville and you’re wanting to know how to fix this? I don’t know if you can. I mean, if you shave on Day 11, you’re going to feel like you’ve “conceded.” If he has sex with you before your two-week shave, you’re going to perceive that he’s doing it under duress. And if he does do it, the pressure to feel/appear enthusiastic like it doesn’t matter will be high. So that’s where you are now. Precisely in the relationship hell that pits individual liberty versus our desire to please, and the terrible stilted place of “trying to act like everything is OK.”
Someone once told me that relationships were about “compromise and sacrifice.” This sounded like a disgusting two-step that I wouldn’t want to put up with in a job, much less an intimate relationship, but she had been married six times so maybe this meant she knew what she was talking about. Time and experience, though, has shown me that we all are better off when selfishly pursuing our own interests, specifically sexually. This is partially why fetishes ARE so cool. A single-minded devotion to something that gives you great pleasure is the ultimate sharing, and ultimately pretty cool.
If it’s not a fetish you share, however? Total drag. But shaving doesn’t seem like a fetish for you. It seems like it’s busy work for you. And not that important in the scheme of things. To you. But the worst buzz-kill for people with fetishes is to feel like your fetish is just being “tolerated.” Even worse is being trapped in a place where you’ve both stepped down from tolerated and into open resistance. I can understand in the face of what you’re calling a fetish that you feel less than valued, but the thing about sexuality is that people like what they like and you’re unlikely to negotiate them out of it.
So, the choice for you: shave or not? If this is not something you want to give in on, get out now. It’ll be better for everyone concerned.
EUGENE, SIR: I want to spit in someone’s face during sex. My wife, I don’t think, would ever go for this, so I want to get an escort. How do I find one who specializes in this? I don’t want to talk to her about it before since what attracts me is the surprise. But is there a code word for this? —Name Withheld by Request
Dear Raindrops: Yes: “water sports.” Though this usually covers urine, it also applies to other fluids. Like spit. But a few things first: Don’t sell your wife short. The transgressive elements of sex, to a certain degree, are what we find attractive about them. And evolving into having a real adult sex life is about finding out what we find attractive and what we don’t. Which is to say that you don’t know what someone will go for until you ask. So ask her. Or if it’s the surprise element that tempts you, just do it. This might make her angry, on a symbolic level, but all in all it will probably make her less angry than discovering you’ve been paying prostitutes.
Who Wants to Screw?
EUGENE, SIR: What’s the difference between a guy who’s truly interested in dating versus someone who just wants to fuck? Are there signs to look for? —Cassie
Dear Cassiopeia: The problem here, which I suspect you’ve already sussed out, is that the latter group has sought the protective coloration of the former group for the express purpose of just fucking. And just to be clear, the former group wants to fuck too, but if things are working right, they don’t want to just fuck. So are there ways to tell the groups apart? Well, some will advise you to go old-fashioned and drag out the courtship into an unspecified number of dates to gauge the earnestness of intent. But this doesn’t work, because a dedicated Just Fucking Guy, aka JFG, will track his prey through innumerable poetry readings, farmer’s markets and hikes from hell just to … get in there. No guarantee that a continued interest in dating will be forthcoming.
So, as with all great defenses in life and very much like jiu jitsu, using the opponents’ own force against them might be the best bet. Try announcing on the first date, providing all of your markers are met and boxes are checked, that you think it’s best to just get the sex thing out of the way. Principled First Date Sex, very different and of higher value than Drunken First Date Sex, will get the attention of both those of earnest intent and the JFG. To the earnest ones, it’s a tri-level chess plan that shows you’ve thought this through and you’re smart and not a screw-up. To the JFG crew it will seem like a trick, but if you follow through, it won’t seem like a trick. Freed from the onus of having to act like they’re going to call again, they will reveal their cards sooner rather than later. This will save you that all-too-valuable asset: time. Good luck!