Dear Ms. Behavior:
What do you say to people who feel entitled to ask rude questions when the answers are none of their business?
My partner, who sustained a serious sports injury about a decade ago, is a paraplegic. Joe and I have been together for two years. I still haven’t adjusted to the way people behave.
It’s rude enough that people ask why I would be with someone who doesn’t have use of his legs. It’s worse when friends and mere acquaintances feel entitled to ask questions about our sex life: “Can he get it up?”; “Does he ejaculate?”; “Does he get out of the chair for sex?”
Our sex life is good, and I don’t want to be defensive. I just don’t know how to answer the dumb questions.
You shouldn’t have to pony up real information in response to insensitive inquiries.
Even if you were to explain that your love for Joe extends beyond his physical body, and hand out informational pamphlets about sex in a wheelchair, it would not eliminate your feeling of annoyance, or help your acquaintances to realize their questions are inappropriate.
So, the best answer to “Can he get it up?” is “Yeah, baby.” When asked if Joe ejaculates, you can invite the inquisitive acquaintance to run his fingers through your hair to find out. Anyone who asks if Joe gets out of his chair for sex obviously should be told to bugger off.
You also may preempt dumb questions by attaching a bumper sticker to the back of his wheelchair that says: “Wheelchairs Are For Lovers.”
Dear Ms. Behavior:
What do you think about a couple sharing their bed with a friend?
Dee and I first met Jodi and her girlfriend about six months ago. We spent many evenings with them, watching movies, and playing video games in our homes.
About two months ago, Jodi’s girlfriend broke up with her in a brutal manner, and immediately started dating someone new. Jodi was devastated, crying all the time, and barely able to go to work.
Dee and I both wanted to help Jodi pull herself together. She gradually started spending more and more time with us at our place during all hours of the day and night. Now, it’s at the point where she eats breakfast with us every morning.
About half the time, she comes back at night, crawls into our bed, and stays over. When the three of us are in bed together, it’s not sexual, but it’s very cozy. At first, it seemed like Jodi needed the comfort, but now that several weeks have passed, I’m not sure why the bed sharing continues.
When I mention it to Dee, we argue. She likes having Jodi around, and even said something about our relationship feeling more “complete” with a third person in it. Jodi jokes about our “threesome,” and Dee laughs. I’m the only one who doesn’t think it’s funny.
What should I do?
Dear Unwillingly Tripled:
Speak up, and don’t be victimized by unwanted cuddling with an extra woman. This isn’t the time to be passive: You aren’t arguing about something trivial, like whether to share your bed with a French poodle or a stuffed manatee.
If Jodi sleeps between your sheets, she’s part of your relationship. Regardless of whether you’re having sex with her, you and Dee are having a physical and emotional relationship with her, which is essentially a threesome.
If a ménage à trois isn’t what you want, you need to say so—clearly.
Ask Dee what it is that feels incomplete about your relationship when no third body is in the bed. The answer to this question is critical. You need to know what’s missing, so you can figure out whether you and Dee can cultivate whatever that is on your own.
You and Dee may need to go to couple’s therapy to hash this out, especially if she adamantly is opposed to going back to being a boring old twosome, and you feel ditching Jodi is necessary for your relationship to survive.
Whatever you do, don’t bring Jodi to couple’s therapy with you!
© 2008 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.