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Dear John: Embarrassment is the Least of Her Problems

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Dear John,

I normally try my best to be an understanding and reasonable person, but recently I've found myself struggling over a matter that I feel both shamed and hurt over. On the one hand, people make mistakes and overlook the feelings of others on a daily basis. It doesn't make them bad people; after all, accidents do happen.

This time, however, I can't shake the feeling of being used as a simple trophy and a crude joke by my boyfriend. He claims to love me, but during an intimate moment together something happened that really embarrassed me.

At the time I merely laughed it off because I trusted him and did not believe he would ever use it against me...

Then he told his friends what happened for a cheap laugh. Not only that, but they apparently stole his phone and taunted me over it. When I try to talk to him about it he doesn't even pretend to hear me.

I'm beginning to become honestly angry where I was only slightly frustrated and it's become too difficult for me to see his point of view. Should I just let the matter drop and pretend like it never happened? I've been told by my friends that guys do this sort of thing often, but I just can't help but feel betrayed and used.

Please, tell me what you think. Am I being overly sensitive, or am I being toyed with and disrespected?

Stranded Trust

Dear Stranded Trust,

Maybe you can’t trust your boyfriend, but you can trust your judgment on this one. Betraying your confidence for the sake of a laugh was indefensible, and refusing to even discuss it further with you is…what’s after indefensible? And then his friends taunting you about it is the icing on this rancid cake. How did he handle that? Are they still his friends?

You’re not being overly sensitive at all; you’re simply wondering why a man who claims to love you acts like he doesn’t even like you. And as for your friends who say guys do things like this “often”? They need to expect a little more from the men in their lives.

Dear John,

I have a four-year-old son who doesn’t like the typical little boy things and never has. Given the choice, he’d rather play dress-up with dolls than push a truck around in the dirt, and this extends to all the usual boy-girl dichotomies.

My problem, if you can call it that, is that friends frequently will make some comment about the likelihood or implying that he will grow up to be gay. These comments are always made in a light-hearted spirit of fun and they almost always come from my wife’s female friends; interestingly, I can’t remember one time when they came from a man. And I don’t know how to respond. I’ll admit that these remarks get under my skin, not because I don’t want him to be gay, but I’m certainly not hoping for it, and that’s how these observations come off - like it would be a good thing. As a recent example, one woman said, “Future fashion designer, how cool is that?”

When this first started happening, I would get a little defensive and things quickly got uncomfortable as I tried to explain my point of view and I always ended up sounding like a homophobe and my wife would be mortified. And just to be clear, if my son does grow up to be gay, I will have zero problem with it. I love him as much as I possibly can and always will no matter what. But I just find even referring to a person’s future sexual orientation when he’s four years old to be ridiculous and irritating, especially because these silly comments seem more trendy than thoughtful. What would be a proper response to reflect how I really feel about this without coming across as, “Yeah, that would be great!”?

Defensive Dad

Dear Defensive Dad,

To be honest, you do sound like you have a bit more of an issue with the possibility of your son being gay than you’re willing to admit, maybe even to yourself. Why do these casual, well-intended, and ultimately meaningless remarks require some kind of precisely worded statement from you in response? What’s wrong with, “Ha! We’ll see!” Even if these comments strike you as inane, do the countless other inane things you undoubtedly hear every day bother you just as much? The problem here isn’t what’s being said as much as how you’re reacting to it. I’d take a closer look at that if I were you.

Dear John,

I’m going to make this brief. I’ve been seeing a woman for a couple of months, things are good, and I’m pretty sure the time is right around the corner when we will have sex for the first time. I’m looking forward to it and also dreading it because, to put it bluntly, I am minimally endowed. And I don’t mean average or slightly below average; I mean way below average. I know from past experience we can have a great sexual relationship, so I’m not asking about the long term, I’m asking about the short term – very short, so to speak: when it’s going to happen, should I give her a little “heads up” about my problem, or should I just let her find out the hard way? (Sorry, but this topic lends itself to humor and I have to laugh about it, otherwise it’s too depressing!)

Small Problem

Dear Small Problem,

I think your self-deprecating sense of humor is a way bigger plus than any physical shortcoming you may think you have, but even if you treat it humorously, I’m disinclined to encourage you to present this as a problem she needs to be warned about. That just perpetuates the myth that sexual pleasure is a function of penis size, which you already know is entirely wrong. And besides, your worry is a man’s fear of “inadequacy” (another wrong-headed term) and doesn’t reflect most women’s approach to sexuality. (In other words, as the two of you are getting undressed, she is almost certainly not thinking to herself, “I sure hope his penis is big enough!”) You have nothing to apologize for.

The one circumstance in which I would say, sure, bring it up beforehand, is if you’re really anxious about it and getting it out in the open would put you more at ease. I don’t get that impression from your letter, though. It’s great to be able to laugh at ourselves, but it’s even greater to be able to accept ourselves as we are where the physical traits we were born with are concerned. 


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