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November 9, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I'm 33 and like a schmuck I've been dating a 31 year old man where I work for going on three months now. Things seemed to be going pretty darn good between us on every level, except the romance and sex level. "T" seems to have a problem "maintaining a woody." Because we got along SO well in every other way, I didn't want to just dump him. I was hoping this would work itself out. Maybe it was the newness of the relationship. Maybe he had been burned in the previous one, whatever. Well, it hasn't gotten better. It's to the point where I don't think he wants to even initiate anything with me because he knows that it will be disappointing.

I've been thinking about this a lot, BG, and I came to the conclusion that if I was a guy with this problem, I would be the first in line at a urologist's office trying to find out what the hell was wrong with me. I would be at a shrink's office delving into the dark recesses of my psyche to try and figure this out. I would be sooooo bummed about this, that I would be doing everything in my power to fix it. In the meantime, if my "plumbing" wasn't working great, and I had met this woman that I professed to be crazy about, I would do everything else possible to keep her satisfied. You know what I mean?

But nooooo. He doesn't do anything. He would rather find a way to avoid having to have any kind of sexual contact with me at all. In the three months that we've been together, we've had maybe eight sexual encounters. I'm sorry, but in every other new relationship I've had, that occurs in the first week!

I've been single for four years, and am completely emotionally available and ready for a relationship. I have a four year old son from a previous litigation, so I am very selective. I thought this guy could be the one. Neither of us have a lot of money, but I still manage to be romantic in little ways. I would send the occasional greeting card, cute e-mail, and do things for him that I know he would appreciate. There is absolutely no reciprocation. I will massage him for a long time, and he'd say, next time it's your turn. Next time always comes and goes. I know that the joy of giving is not expecting things in return. But I thought if I did these little things for him, in time as he got to know me better he would respond in kind.

Recently, he left on a two week trip to visit family in Southern California, and to catch a band in Las Vegas. On a weekend when I did not have my son, he chose to leave early Saturday morning (after nothing happened Friday nite, nor in the morning, if you catch my drift). He gave me the keys to his place and asked if I would feed his fish and water his plants. I said I would and playfully asked him to bring me something back from Vegas. While he was gone, I got two very impersonal postcards from him, and a couple of phone calls, also impersonal.

He returned (also on a weekend when I did not have my son, so we could've had some time together) very late on Saturday nite. He said (AFTER he watched the indie race on T.V.) Sunday, he would come over and take me and my son out for dinner. He came over Sunday evening, and guess what he brought me from his wonderful trip to Las Vegas?..........a friggin' calendar!

I'm sorry if I sound selfish and ungrateful, but that's gotta be the lamest thing any guy has ever given me. It was one of those cheap ones that look like you get free from the hotel room.

We had a pretty impersonal visit (actually nothing much could've happened because I had my son with me), he said he would come over Monday evening after work and after my son went to bed, we could make love. We ended up just watching T.V. shows on Monday. I said to him, Geez, you're not very touchy with me, and he replied, neither are you -- it's a two-way street, you know.

He talks about making plans for the future -- of us taking a road trip after the first of the year. He says nice things to me quite often, although a little vague. But his behavior seems just a little bit fishy to me. What do you think I should do?

-- Frustrated as Hell

Dear Frustrated,

Um, read your second sentence. What the dilly is left? Just wondering.

Now. Let me disabuse you of a notion whose presense I sense somewhere in your letter. It's this: "If he really loved me, he'd get help for the 'woody' thing." Not so fast, sistah. It's way more complicated than that. For all the stereotypes about men as Mr. Fixits, actual scientific evidence shows that guys don't go to doctors even for, like, alligator-wrestling-related tendinitis, much less "plumbing problems." (Some say this physician-phobia is actually why men live, on average, seven years fewer than women. Some say that's because women lie about their age. But I digress.) To read more about the lack of woodage, check out the Male Health Center. Don't be turned off by the babe in the bikini, or the picture of, um, the Eiffel Tower; those guys pretty much know what they're talking about.

I could comment on the calendar, which would mainly be to say he might as well have gotten you a clipboard instead, because all you're doing is tallying. Maybe he's a sucky shopper, a sucky correspondent, I don't know. Maybe Vegas is not so much known for its cobblestoned alleys and quaint shops with unique artisans' wares. Slack-cuttage perhaps required here.

And I could comment on your other claims of "impersonal" and "vague" and "fishy," which would mainly be to say that frankly, yeah, he sounds like a bit of a pill.

But the plumbing thing is big, Frustrated. It is no toothache, it is no tendinitis. Problems like this Mean Something to your average guy. I don't know which is the chicken and which is the egg -- like, is he nervous about you and thus nervous about "performing," or nervous about performing and thus nervous about performing -- but it doesn't really matter; there could be any number of purely physical causes mixed in as well. But the point is: this kind of concern colors everything else. All other bets, analyses, BG pronouncements, etc. are off until your calendar boy calls the Maytag guy. There's no way to make him do this, but a really good way to make him not do it is to keep being the passive-aggressive low-scoring "Russian judge" about his performance in other areas. I'm not saying you shouldn't require and deserve respect and kindness, not to mention a little somethinsomethin. But if this is the guy that you think you -- and your son -- could spend some good long QT with, then you've got to be able to have a straight conversation about the sex thing: not because all you care about is getting laid, not because he's the only thing around here that needs fixing, but because it's something the two of you are going to have to work out if you wanna take any kind of extended road trip together. Put that on your calendar, okay?

Breakup Girl



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