Ms. Behavior© Olfactorily Challenged

Dear Ms. Behavior:

I love my girlfriend, but I don’t love the way she smells. Her breath, sweat, and body smell are OK (not great), but I seriously dislike the smell of her…um…lady parts.

I told my two closest friends about this when we first got together, but they encouraged me to go for it, because everything else about her is nearly perfect.

We have a fun sex life—and she’s always perfectly happy to go down on me—but I am running out of excuses about not going down on her. I only have done it two or three times. I hated it. I can’t do it again.

I don’t know how I would tell her that I don’t like her smell, especially because she can’t fix it. She bathes regularly, and doesn’t eat anything strange. It’s just her personal odor. I never have had this problem with anyone else.

Should I tell her the truth, so that she stops asking me to do it? Or should I just keep coming up with excuses forever and ever?

—Olfactorily Challenged
Dear Olfactorily Challenged:

Most excuses that possibly could be used for an exemption from muff diving would seem both hypochondriacal and temporary:

(1) Whiplash

(2) Sprained tongue

(3) Headache

So, what else can you do?

It would be awkward and hurtful to say that you like the taste of a vagina in general, but not hers specifically. You might be better off with a little white lie: Explain that you don’t like giving oral sex, and you don’t think it ever is going to change.

This gives her several options:

(1) She can decide not to go down on you, too, if it feels bad to her that oral sex isn’t reciprocal.

(2) She can work on accepting that she’s in a relationship with someone who never is going to go down on her.

(3) She can leave the relationship with the hope of finding someone who loves to give lip service.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

My family always has been critical of me. They never have been happy that I’m a lesbian, and they never have been fans of my girlfriends.

My relationship with my current partner, Lee, is serious, but we’ve been together for less than a year. I haven’t introduced her to my family.

When we first met, Lee was an extremely butch woman. However, shortly after we got involved, he decided to follow his lifelong desire to become a man. Once he started taking hormones, the physical transformation happened quickly.

It’s nearly impossible to tell that he’s trans. My friends have said that they’d never know.

I haven’t known what to tell my family. My sisters and my Mom are calling, asking where I’ve been. They want to know why I’ve been so scarce.

Frankly, I just haven’t known how to handle it. I’m tempted just to introduce Lee as my boyfriend, and let them think he’s a biological man.

In some ways, it feels like it would be easier to avoid their questions and their judgment, and I know it would make them happy. In other ways, I feel that not telling the truth would be a betrayal of myself and of all my gay friends.

What do you think I should do?


Dear Eva:

It’s easy to see why you’re tempted just to refer to Lee as your boyfriend without further explanation. You have the opportunity to cash in on heterosexual privilege, while still privately maintaining your somewhat queer identity.

It’s also true that if you mention Lee was born a biological female, your family is likely to think of him as a woman no matter what else you say. But it’s sad to think that you only can gain family acceptance by bringing home a man.

Lee may have strong feelings about whether to disclose his trans status, so your decision about whether to tell your family obviously should be made in consultation with him. He may want to be totally out about it, or he may want to be private. You’ll need to work this out together.

If your family is as ignorant as you say, their acceptance of you—contingent upon your pretending to be heterosexual—will be a mixed bag.

Ultimately, you have to decide if you want the gratification of your family’s support, even if it means you have to hide who you (and Lee) really are.

Under these conditions, the thrill of your family’s newfound respect for you may wear off rather quickly, and their small-mindedness probably will reveal itself in other ways.

© 2010 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected] 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.

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