Shaken Up

Friday, September 25, 2009

Question

We are a male/female couple in our twenties who fell in love at work. He is a straight-but-not-narrow man. She is lesbian-identified, but fell in love with him despite his gender handicap. We have been together for more than a year and were shocked when she got pregnant. Until then, we had used the rhythm method of birth control. It is not the right time for us to have a child. He would eventually like to get married and have a family. But both of us agree this is too soon. She has already scheduled an abortion. Both of us are upset, but we seem to be having trouble talking about this with each other. Is this going to drive a wedge between us?

Answer

Well, it will if you can't find a way to sit down and share your feelings. But before I get the two of you together, I'd like the woman in this couple to briefly leave the room. Just go into the kitchen and go get a snack, okay? This won't take long.

Okay, dickhead, what the hell is your problem? You have having sex with a woman who is or was a lesbian. She is not used to penises. She is not accustomed to the precautions that straight women take to avoid getting knocked up. What on earth made you think the rhythm method would be any more effective than chance? It's your penis. Why the hell didn't you put a condom on and furthermore get her to Planned Parenthood or her doctor so she could get a cervical cap or take the pill? How often do you go to the drugstore, Mr. Boyfriend? What would it have cost you to get a 24-pack of condoms and a few cans of spermicidal foam while you were picking out some new toenail clippers or a trimmer for your nose hair? Shame on you! Now she has to go through one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a woman, and you could have prevented it. If you can't show her that you know you did something wrong, you are sorry, and you are never going to let this happen to her again, there is no reason for her to ever have sex with you again. Ever. And I am including blow jobs!

Hi, there, Ms. Girlfriend, come on in. Thanks for your indulgence. You have probably figured this out already, but the rhythm method is not an effective form of birth control. If you want to have penis-in-vagina intercourse, you need to be on the birth control pill, use condoms with spermicides, or get a device to cover your cervix if you want to prevent pregnancy and protect yourself from sexually-transmitted diseases. You also need regular screenings for cervical cancer. Please see your doctor and get your options described for you. (There are more than the ones I've listed, including devices that can be inserted into the uterus and a hormone implant that can be put under your skin.)

Even people who who want abortion to remain legally available are often ambivalent or upset about the prospect of terminating a pregnancy. Please find somebody you can trust to talk about how you feel about what is happening. And sometime soon, include your boyfriend in this dialogue. You may be angry with him or feel that your trust has been violated. If he is already acting guilty, sad, or self-blaming, it could be hard to wallop him with your own emotions. But he can take it. (He'd better!) Both of you need to understand that whether you yell at each other, cry, or shout, these are feelings that probably won't stick around forever. The more current you keep one another with all of your complex feelings, the less likely this will be to harm your relationship in the long term.

I am not sure why you weren't asking him to use condoms, at the bare minimum. Sometimes women who aren't used to having sex with men find it difficult to be assertive about such things. Now you know you need to learn how to do that, to be specific about the way you want to take care of your own body, and what he has to do if he wants access to the pleasures you could potentially share with him. Don't worry about the man not complying. The normal guy who has a choice between getting laid with a condom and not getting laid at all will use the condom.

Latex allergies are becoming more and more common as people practice safer sex in larger numbers. If you have a latex allergy, do NOT expose yourself to this substance. This is the sort of allergy that can become severe enough to cause your throat to swell so that you can't breathe. But there are condoms made out of other substances now. So you can still protect yourself without getting red, swollen, and itchy. Also be aware that a condom needs some backup in case it breaks. Spermicidal foam or gel is sold over-the-counter; you don't need a prescription.

I think both of you are to be commended for realizing that this is not the right time for you to try to be parents. I'm sure that was a hard decision. Sharing fear, hurt, and anger with each other doesn't mean you can't comfort one another as well. I hope this will be a warning that can help you both to be more realistic about your sex life so that you can go back to feeling sexually free with one another. Love that's managed to overcome a "gender handicap" is pretty special, so I hope love continues to prevail.

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