Why you should care
OZY’s Eugene S. Robinson addresses queries from the love-weary in “Sex With Eugene.”
EUGENE, SIR: I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that has utterly destroyed my once-out-of-control empathy. Not surprisingly, it also killed my relationship. It apparently has also destroyed any interest in having a physical relationship with anyone else. My personality has changed drastically. I admit I have a lot of trouble caring about my ex’s abundant issues and demands, plus he is just plain lazy and that makes me very irritated, but I still love him and having sex with him is really excellent. He definitely wants me to be the one to fix things. Unfortunately, I barely remember the last two years and have no idea what to fix or how. He refuses to say and seems to think I should know. He really is not innocent and has alienated all of my friends and family, who were threatening to kick him out of my house if I didn’t and have been helping me since I ended the engagement. Sometimes we have sex every week; sometimes he blows me off for weeks. I don’t care nearly as much as I feel like I would have in the past, but it is unsettling and I very much enjoy the sex. The slightest touch of anyone else, say a hug, absolutely makes my skin crawl. I have tried meeting a few people. All have been dismal failures. So do I move on to try to find someone I feel motivated to connect with, wait around for him or just give up any kind of relationship with a person until and unless I get more of that part of my brain back? —Lost Myself
Dear Dr. Hyde: A lot to unpack, but first things first. The brain is a mystery, not only to those who have them, but also to those who study them. So how your neural pathways are fixing themselves while your system attempts to rebalance itself is anyone’s guess. But the issue as you’ve laid it out is a simple left-straight-right problem, so I’d say this: Moving on to find someone else, unless you’re in a TBI support group, is not advisable. How do I know? Because you seem to suggest this: Unless you find crawling skin sexy, it’s tough enough to deal with your own TBI, let alone anyone else’s.
But giving up on relationships will only be useful if you never intend to have a relationship again. Which seems unlikely. Your interest in continuing to have sex supports this since I am sure if you had meant just sex with yourself, you would have said so.
Leaving what? Well, sticking with a dude who, imperfect though he might be, is a semi-known quality against which you can measure both progress and regress. I’m sure many would say that you need a man like you need an air balloon, but you know, sometimes you might actually need an air balloon, and this is more realpolitik than anything else. Stick with the dude while you rehab. Expect little, but track your progress and when the time is right to step away, it’ll present itself as surely as things that are obvious tend to do. Good luck!
EUGENE, SIR: My subject line should have been “Trans Male to Female Still Attracted to My Wife.” And women. I’m 64 years old and had a rather late awakening that I even had a closet. I’ve been undergoing hormone therapy for a month and a half now. My body and face are changing, and though that turns me on, it doesn’t my wife of 22 years. Emotionally and all else otherwise, except sexually, things are great. My wife likes being with me much better now. I’m kinder, more attentive and far more open in my loving her. The rub is, she tells me — and I perfectly understand — that she signed up for marriage with a man, not a woman. She’s not and has never considered herself lesbian or bisexual. We’ve discussed divorce. We’ve discussed her taking on a male lover(s). I’m not a fan of either as I’ve always been faithful for the full 22 years. Yet for her, I would try to make the personal sacrifice of another being with her. I know that if it comes to that, there is the risk of losing her. For me, this is even more pertinent because of the family, friendship and business losses since my awakening. If my marriage does end, then I will summon all my powers to continue and soldier on through this life without my heart, if need be. I will fight like a Scotsman. Thank you for your time, and I hope you are enjoying your time with your grandchild. —Jiina
Dear J: Unsure how Scotsmen fight, but if Braveheart is any indication (though I might be confusing things; this maybe was the movie where noted antisemite actor Mel Gibson didn’t talk to a beaver), your circumstance is up for a hell of a battle. However, I am unsure that you’re going to be successful trying to sell a ship that’s so clearly sailed. I mean, there are lots of trans circumstances, and while you could opt to retain your male sex organs, your wife didn’t just love you because of your penis (I’d hope). However, we dig those we dig on account of what they represent to us. In other words, our essential character, and what your wife has said is that, for her, this was tied into your maleness. Precisely the quality that you found ill-suited you. I am unsure that the twain will meet on this one. So being good friends is a good compromise and more than many get under the best of circumstances. Maybe sad to lose a lover but good of you to maintain a friend and understand that your changes are not her changes.
It’s Only Smells?
EUGENE, SIR: My husband and I lived with his mother after our wedding and until our own place was finished. During that time, I guess his mother continued doing our laundry. Or rather, continued doing his. We get to our new place, though, and while doing our laundry I find that his underwear is totally dirty. I asked him why and he said he doesn’t really wipe his ass because it seemed kind of gay to him. Since then, I can’t help but smell him. I have asked him to wash his bottom, but he just laughs. Needless to say, sex is now impossible, I’ve stopped fellating him. I can’t take it. I love him still and we have a 2-year-old kid together, but I can’t take it. Help. —Name withheld by request
Dear Breath Holder: Ugh. Well, you know his laughter is a sign that he has no idea how bad things are. I suggest you collect his underwear for a few days straight and then show him evidence of his collected crimes. Then tell him, while some people may like poop-smell perfumeries, you do not. And it’s getting rougher and rougher that he doesn’t care enough to care. While it’s shocking to have to re-toilet train an adult man, that’s where you are and that’s what you should do. Write me back again if he so much as smirks about this. I mean, it may be that he is smell-insensitive, but that’s what the poopy pants slideshow should reveal. Best of luck.