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Ask B, Relationship Expert
by Brian Josepher

Ask B, Relationship Expert

Dear B,
I am a 44-year-old woman who has had many female lovers in her past. These days, I usually date men. The problem I have is determining when I should be honest about my past. When I’ve been honest with a man, he always badgers me half to death with questions such as, “Am I as good as a woman?” and “If I’m not as good as a woman, would you dump me for a woman?” and occasionally, “Would you do a threesome?”
Now I’m involved with a nice guy, and see a possible long-term relationship. He is a sort-of liberal Republican but would probably completely go nuts about this. Do I have to tell him about this part of my past?
– Perplexed in Providence

Dear Perplexed in Providence,
Let me be perfectly clear. Do not tell your boyfriend about this history. Under no circumstances. If you’re out together and you should run into a past girlfriend on the street, look away. If she approaches, run. Later on, lie to him.
Straight men simply cannot handle this sort of information. Your reference to the “threesome” question aptly demonstrates my point. I don’t usually do this but I’ll share a little bit of my personal life here. I once fell for a woman who typically fell for other women. She fell for me and she told me everything about her past, vividly recounting sex scenes with women.
I couldn’t turn off that imagery. I’m not a “sort-of” Republican. I’m a New York liberal but what started as a curiosity turned into a fascination turned into an obsession. Only the end of the relationship turned off the imagery. That and some fine grief counseling.
Now the more important issue: What are you doing dating a Republican, “sort-of liberal” or otherwise? Just because you’ve gone straight doesn’t mean you’ve gone nuts. In Providence, I would think, there are many liberal, single men (or women). Find one.

Dear B,
I have a phobia that when I’m alone with a man I cannot eat in front of him – as I start having panic attacks. When I am alone with men I get so nervous that I get sick. I have fallen recently for a guy but cannot go on a date with him because I keep on being sick. I get that nervous that now I am falling into depression I am so frightened of him. I can’t speak to him or anything.
I think this is a phobia. Do you agree? What is wrong with me?
– Sick

Dear Sick,
Do you know what bothers me the most about your letter? The way you signed it. You’re convinced that you’re sick. You’re convinced that you have a phobia. You even declare it in your opening sentence. So guess what? You have a phobia.
If you wrote this letter to some of my more famous colleagues in the advice column game, they would tell you to seek out psychiatric help. Here at Ask B, we meet the challenge head on
Let’s break this cycle. I don’t usually do this but I’ll share a little bit of my personal life here. When I was a young boy, a dog attacked me. I actually don’t have memories of the event. My older sister tells me that the dog had me pinned and she pulled the dog off.
I ended up with a phobia of dogs. I knew the fear to be totally irrational – particularly given the fact that I had no memory of it – but I couldn’t escape the terror. Whenever a dog came ambling down the street, paying absolutely no attention to me, my heart began to race. My breathing turned panicky. I could feel the sweat form on my forehead. I could feel my legs turn into spaghetti. In my mind, the dog was about to attack and I was about to be mauled.
Sound familiar?
As many of my readers know, I am today a great dog lover. I have absolutely no fear of dogs. In fact, I’m known in my community for breaking up dog fights. I’ve stepped in between the most vicious, angry canines. I’m no hero. It’s just an innate reaction.
How did I cure myself? I adopted a dog. When you let a dog into your life, you enter a community of dogs and their humans. This community cured me.
What do you need to do? Forge some friendships with guys. I’m talking the non-romantic kind. In fact, pick guys with whom you feel no attraction. This will relieve some of the pressure you’re putting on yourself. Get to know these men as friends. Get comfortable just hanging out.
If you already have this in your life, terrific, you’re halfway there.
As friendships evolve, romantic feelings occasionally surface. This may happen to you. But do you see where we’re at? You’ve already established a friendship. Moving from hanging out to dating won’t be such an arduous leap.
What you need is a “dog” to cure your panic.

Dear B,
First of all an admission: the male sex organ never brings me to climax. Fortunately I am very fond of vibrators. Personally I prefer electrical to manual. Also, to my boyfriend’s great credit, he supports my pleasure seeking. In fact he’s become quite adept at operating the vibrator.
Now the problem: I live in a state, Alabama, that prohibits sex toys. The law bans, “Any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”
In addition, I live in the western part of the state and since Mississippi has a similar law on its books, I have to drive all the way to Louisiana when my vibrator breaks down. And that happens all the time. There must be a better solution.
Also, I can’t order on the Internet. The mailman always gives me the creepiest looks. Someday he’s going to bring the police. What’s a girl to do?
– In the Closet in Alabama

Dear In the Closet in Alabama,
According to my friend from Louisiana, Alabama police are the worst in the country. So please, find a better solution than the mail and those devious mail carriers.
Now, let’s get down to business. In order to answer your question, I posed as a customer at Larry’s Clapshack, the local sex shop (we have those in New York. We’re liberated up here.). Larry himself served as my salesman. “There are all sorts of vibrators,” he told me. “They’re like cars. You’ve got the External Wand vibrator and the Clitoral vibrator and the Bullet and the G-spot and, my personal favorite, the Rabbit.”
“Why is the Rabbit your favorite?” I asked Larry.
“It’s a personal thing,” he responded. “I like the electrical vibrators and the Rabbit fits the bill. Plus, the Rabbit comes with power modes and rotating shafts and beads for maximized pleasure and for whatever reason, the Rabbit doesn’t break down. It’s the Volvo of vibrators. Lasts 200,000 miles. I’ve even heard of Rabbits going longer. Not great for business but that’s why we price them a little higher.”
Closet in Alabama, perhaps the Rabbit is the one for you.
Larry did offer a warning. “I just hope you know,” he said to me, “this isn’t for anal purposes. There’s a specific anal vibrator. I can show you that one if you’re interested.”
I declined. I won’t tell the reader what I purchased, if anything, but I will say to Closet in Alabama that you shouldn’t use just any vibrator in an anal fashion. That, according to Larry, “makes your vibrator go kerplunk.”

P.S. If you don’t find my advice serviceable, you could always rent a P.O. Box. If that still leads to leering glances from creepy proprietors and you must drive to Louisiana, will you please stop in Mississippi and pick me up a Confederate flag beach towel. I hear they’re everywhere in that great state and I would order one over the Internet but I’m afraid of those devious mail carriers, too.

Let’s hear from the guys.

Dear B,
I need help with a big problem I am facing. My dad says I’m not his, and my mom says I am his. But a couple of my dad’s friends also witnessed she was sleeping around on him back in 1987, and I don’t know what to do to prove my mom or dad either way. I am wondering what I should do, and how can I calm down about this situation?
– Timothy in Tulsa

Dear Timothy in Tulsa,
It sounds like your parents are really struggling in their relationship, perhaps they always have been, and they’re taking it out on you. If that’s the case, and you are clearly the best person to judge, perhaps now is the time to move away. You’re at that age when establishing a little distance from parents is a very good idea. This is a big, fascinating country. Perhaps you might explore it. Even moving to Oklahoma City might not be the worst idea.

P.S. If you don’t find my advice serviceable, a DNA test will prove paternity in under two weeks.

Dear B,
I am a 54-year-old man considering a rather routine operation. The kind of operation isn’t important but it is a voluntary procedure. I just read a study linking the anesthesia isoflurane to Alzheimer’s. As a 54-year-old, I’m sure you can understand why this might cause me some concern. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the subject.
– Troubled

Dear Troubled,
Yes, I can understand your concerns but please recognize that this is a relationship/advice column. Not an alternative to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dear B,
My 30-year-old daughter lives in Chicago. She grew up with her mother, although I was an active – albeit distant – father. My problem is that we rarely communicate, and when we do, I always do the calling. I never receive a birthday or Father’s Day card, or even a Christmas card from her, for that matter. Although I send her these little remembrances, she never acknowledges any gift or card from me or any of my family.
I now have a terminal illness. My daughter is aware of this. Should I press her for more contact, or has she given her answer to my condition?
– Stumped Dad in Pompano Beach

Dear Stumped Dad in Pompano Beach,
Please, do yourself a favor and reread your letter to me. It’s just above this answer. Read it slow. Try with all of your might to read it as if you weren’t the author, as if you weren’t involved. I’ll give you a moment…
Do you see the kind of person you’ve created in your letter? A victim. You send “little remembrances” and you get no response. You always call. She does not call you. You have the terminal illness. Your daughter is aware of this and still she fosters this distance. When you examine your life with her, why do you think this is so?
From my angle of viewership, I’d say that you really blew it during her childhood. In your letter, you called yourself an “active” father. I’m sure she saw you as an absent father. Stumped Dad, you can’t be a good parent if you’re not around. It’s really a very simple equation.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to transcend this initial stage. But guess what? You can’t transcend it. Your daughter built her identity in part on her relationship with her dad.
For your sake, and I am sorry that you’re now suffering from a terminal illness, I will offer some advice. Write your daughter one letter. Pour your heart into it and explain yourself, your actions and your thinking as best as you can. Go through the timeline. Take your time. Fill in all the blanks. Consider this letter your legacy to your daughter. Don’t question her position. Don’t analyze her actions. Don’t expect her to answer. Once you’re finished, put the letter in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and drop it in the mail.

Dear B,
My current relationship really has the opportunity to grow into something significant. Problem: I am not economically stable enough, or even professionally compatible with my girlfriend. In both cases she far surpasses me. It’s made me feel as if this relationship has an alarm clock that will go off, and then it will all be over. What do you think I should do?
– D.C. Dude

Dear D.C. Dude,
I think you should listen to that alarm clock. I don’t usually do this but I’ll share a little bit of my personal life here. I once was in your situation. I was the young writer, basically penniless. I fell in love with a woman in business, making a large living. We had great camaraderie, great chemistry. We could spend the entire weekend together and at the end, we were both bummed that we had to wait five whole days for the next weekend to come around. We fit in every way but one.
Money is power, D.C. Dude, and in your situation it creates a great inequality. You’re the serf, is that the position you want to be in?
I’m going to be even more blunt. Not only is your relationship doomed but you’ll be in even worse shape when the relationship breaks up. You’re going to be very angry. You’re not going to be able to rationally understand how economics could break up a seemingly wonderful relationship. The anger side of your grieving is going to take a long time to subside. Perhaps double the length of the actual relationship. Is that how you want to spend the next years, in grief counseling?

Dear B,
We love you in Colorado. For a New York liberal, you’re okay. Now let’s drop all the advice talk and get down to the key issue of the day. On paper, the Denver Nuggets look like a dynamite basketball team. I know you’re a diehard fan. What do you think of the team’s chances?
– Anthony and A.I. all the way

Dear Anthony and A.I. all the way,
Thanks for the love from Colorado. I don’t usually do this but I’ll share a little bit of my personal life here. I readily admit, I am a diehard Nuggets fan. Back in 1976 or so, my mother took me to my first game. Larry Brown then coached the Nugs. Or were we called the Rockets then? I forget.
Anyway, at that time, you could go down near the court before the game. There was little security. I asked for and received Larry Brown’s autograph. It’s a memento from childhood that I dearly wish I still had. I LOVE LARRY BROWN.
As for your question, this is an advice column, not a sports confab. Now maybe if you’d asked me to solve the relationship between Melo and Iverson, I could accommodate.

Published: Sep 20,2008 14:55
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