Should he take a cue from Eric Clapton and tell her, ‘Let It Grow’?
I’ve been seeing a new girlfriend for a few months now. I am quite a bit older than she is—my reason for writing isn’t directly connected to our age difference, but I think it has something to do with it.
Things have been going great and recently we had sex for the first time. I have to admit I was a little shocked when I found she was, uh, completely hairless. I guess she could tell I was somewhat taken aback and so we talked about it a bit and she explained it’s pretty much standard now for women her age to be waxed smooth. Or if not standard, then very, very common.
When the heck did this happen? I’m not totally clueless and I guess I’ve noticed “personal grooming” is a more popular topic for magazine articles, etc., but I had no idea it had become so … extreme. And to be honest, I don’t like it at all. Every time I see her naked now, I can’t help but think of her as a little girl, and I find this disturbing to say the least. I’ve told her so (although I wasn’t honest about the extent to which it bothers me), but she says she likes how it feels and looks. My question is, should I try to get used to it, even though I’m not sure I can? Or should I ask her to rethink this and risk appearing rigid and controlling about such a personal choice of hers?
Wants a Girlfriend, Not a Girl
Dear Wants a Girlfriend,
You are not the first person I’ve heard who thinks a completely depilated pubic area (that sounds erotic, doesn’t it?) looks disturbingly pre-pubescent. I completely understand, but I don’t really see it that way. To me, it’s nothing more than the style of the time, and it’s as arbitrary as any style choice. All body hair is post-pubescent, and removing it from the underarms or legs could also be thought to create an appearance of pre-pubescence, could it not? The difference is you’re used to that—so used to it, in fact, that if you’re like most men, you prefer it. I realize that the pubic area is more personal, but the principal is exactly the same, in my opinion.
As far as what you should do, if she likes it, I think you should try to get used to it. It may make for an interesting conversation if you share your thoughts with her, but the decision should be left up to her. And there’s a school of thought that considers body-hair removal and other modifications supposedly meant to please men to be antithetical to feminism, so I will relish the thought that this is her choice (possibly due to the omnipresent pressure of the patriarchy!) and you’re grudgingly going along with it.
Tell me what you make of this: a while ago, I loaned some money to a friend. Maybe it wouldn’t be a lot of money to some people, but it was a lot to me. She just called and said she was about to pay me back when she heard from a friend of hers (a guy I know slightly and don’t especially like) who was pretty desperate to borrow some money as well. Long story short, she loaned him the money she meant to give to me, and now she wanted me to know that she doesn’t owe it to me any more, this other guy does! She explained that since we all know each other, she didn’t think I would care! But I do care, a lot! We got into a big argument about it and she got pretty nasty. “Selfish” was about the nicest thing she called me. Now I feel kind of bad because I know she was just trying to help someone out and I think maybe I overreacted. What do you think?
Just Want My Money Back
Dear Money Back,
So you loaned her a large sum of money; instead of paying you back, she decided to loan your money to someone else without consulting you; and you’re worried that she called you selfish?! What I think is that you’re far too indulgent with this friend of yours.
Call or email her and calmly explain that you loaned her money, and as far as you’re concerned she is the one who owes it to you. Her loan to her other friend has nothing whatsoever to do with you. Tell her you’re disappointed she loaned him money when she still had an outstanding debt to you, and you expect her to repay you as soon as she is able.
In addition to money, she owes you an apology, and while you’re waiting for both, I’d start looking for some new friends.
I have been married for 12 years and have one child. I love my child and my husband very, very much. I have not had any extramarital dalliances nor was I looking for anything like that. Several months ago I reconnected with an old friend online. She and I had not seen each other since high school and thought it would be nice to meet for coffee. We immediately bonded, but what has happened since then is a full-blown love affair. We email several times a day and meet a couple of times a week. She is bisexual and not involved with anyone else. I have never had any lesbian relationships and believe that my involvement with her is about my feelings for her as a person and not any unresolved issues about my sexuality. I believe that my “affair” has not in any way undermined my relationships with my family. I actually feel more complete and a better caregiver and partner for all of those I love. Do you think it is possible for this Eleanor Roosevelt–type relationship to work?
It Can’t Be Wrong When It Feels So Right
Dear Feels So Right,
I’m not sure I could think of a worse measure of whether something’s right than how it feels. That could justify a lot of bad stuff. Like what you’re doing.
You’re lying to your husband, whom you claim to love “very, very much,” about something so fundamental, so essential. If he doesn’t know anything about this, it’s plainly wrong, not because of the sexuality involved, but because of the deception. Justify it to yourself however you want. It’s unequivocally wrong.
Lesbian, bisexual, whatever. That’s all irrelevant. The plain fact here is that you are keeping from your husband a basic aspect of your deepest self. You realized you had a need and instead of exploring that need with him, however that might have happened, you have created a separate life for yourself that excludes your husband and your child. You go to great lengths to justify, excuse, explain … it amounts to nothing. You believe your affair hasn’t undermined your relationship with your family? How convenient! You feel like a more complete person and a better wife and mother because you have a lover? Was that the only way you could enjoy these feelings? Didn’t you owe it to your family to give them a chance to participate in making you complete?
In my opinion, more than anything, marriage is about two people mutually agreeing that no matter what, the two of us are in this together, and whatever happens, we’ll figure it out together. That’s a bit idealized, and everyone screws it up some time or other, but the difference is we realize we screwed it up and we try to make amends and get back to that ideal. Marriage has no room for the kind of secret life you’re leading. The fact that it “feels so right” is not something to find reassuring; it’s a reflection of how thoroughly you’re deceiving yourself as well as your husband.
This is not the first letter I’ve gotten along these lines, and it’s surprising to me how the letter writers seem to think, “It’s not so bad because I’m not cheating with a guy.” But infidelities are always completely wrong in exactly the same way. If you choose to do it, at least own what you’re doing.
To get back to your question, do I think this kind of relationship can “work”? I have no idea what you mean by “work.” Can you continue to engage in it indefinitely without devastating your husband and child? Possibly, if you and your lover are discrete and lucky. Is it OK? Is it right? Are you to be complimented on your fulfillment—your “completeness”? No, no, and no.
Write to John at [email protected]
—Photo (ccarlstead)/via Flickr