Q: I am an 18-year-old student. I have trust issues. I have been with my boyfriend for 10 months now, and he’s very supportive. I am not a jealous person or a controlling head case because I have no problem with him going to bars/clubs with friends, going to parties when other girls are there, having conversations with other women, etc. However, I have an uncontrollable fear that he is going to cheat on me. I break down crying and have anxiety attacks every two days or so when the “idea” that he might cheat pops into my head. I have this problem in every relationship. I’ve trusted all my boyfriends in every other aspect and let them do what they want, but I just can’t help feeling as though they’re going to cheat on me, something none of them ever did. Do you know if there is any way I can overcome my phobia? —Infideliphobic Dominatrix Experiencing Anxiety Severely
A: You know what? Sooner or later everyone gets cheated on. Some researchers put the chance of one or both partners in a long-term relationship cheating at 80 percent. Toss in the likelihood of being cheated on in a short-term relationship, IDEAS, and the chance that you will be cheated on sooner or later climb to 100 percent. It sucks, sister, but there’s not a lot you can do about it.
I would advise you to regard cheating the way you no doubt regard something else that you can’t do anything about: death. Surely you’re aware that you’re going to die; we’re all going to die. And why don’t you run around in a panic about that? Because you refuse to obsess. You put it out of your mind. You live, as we all do, in a state of denial about death. Oh, you may think about death every once in a while, IDEAS, and you may consciously avoid doing dumb things that might hasten your death (smoking, shooting heroin, voting for Ralph Nader), but most of the time you live in pure, unalloyed, comforting denial about your certain demise.
Why not take the same approach to cheating? Like death, it’s gonna happen to you sooner or later. You can do your best to avoid it by, say, getting to know guys well before you make a commitment, refusing to date guys you know have cheated on other women, and refusing to date Nader supporters (they’re notorious cheaters). If, despite your best efforts to avoid cheaters and Nader voters, you realize you’re dating a guy who gives you cause to believe he’s cheating on you, then you can worry about it.
Q: I’m a 22-year-old gay man. I moved to New York from San Francisco and decided to try to start dating again. I’ve only been here a little over a week but have had no luck meeting anyone. I’ve posted ads on several Web sites and have gotten lots of responses, but everyone that I send my photo to suddenly loses interest. I know the photo I’m sending isn’t the greatest (it was taken in a photo booth), but I didn’t think I was that bad-looking. Do I just give up and stick to masturbating or what? —New Kid In Town
P.S. You can see the photo I’m talking about at my.gay.com/nicholasnine.
A: Two things are working against you when you send that photo to guys who respond to your personal ads, NKIT. First, it’s a terrible photo. Second, you seem to be unaware of an assumption that people generally make about the photos other people send out or post on personals Web sites. When you send someone your photo, he assumes that it’s the best photo that has ever or will ever be taken of you. So when you send out a bad photo — and that’s an awful photo — guys look at it and think, “Shit, if that’s the best photo that has ever been taken of this guy, he must be one ugly motherfucker!” My advice: Get some better, more flattering pictures, ones that make you look a little less like a Nader voter who’s just been hit on the head with a brick.
Q: I know your liberal heart means well, Dan, but the response you gave to SAUDI typifies much that is wrong with the Western attitude toward the Middle East.
While SAUDI is partially to blame for having the poor judgment to ask you about sexual ethics, your statement, “Unlike the country you left behind, there are no morals police in the part of North America where you live,” smacks of haughty, imperialistic condescension. You totally ignored the fact that the values SAUDI was taught as a Muslim have a deep and completely valid cultural context that needs to be considered when dispensing advice. You reduced the conundrum of a devout man experiencing serious cultural conflict to the influence of the “morals police,” and in quite a smirking tone. I don’t care how progressive Canadians are. It is incredibly offensive to imply the superiority of morals in Canada to values taught in Saudi Arabia. To paraphrase Gandhi, have some goddamned cultural sensitivity, man. —Sick of Stereotypes
A: Did I imply the superiority of morals in Canada to values taught in Saudi Arabia? Jesus H. Christ, SOS, I feel terrible about that. So let me set the record straight: I never meant to imply the superiority of morals in Canada to values taught in Saudi Arabia. I meant to state, loudly and clearly and for the record, the absolute superiority of morals in Canada to values taught in Saudi Arabia.
Let us count the ways in which Canada is superior: equality of the sexes, political and religious pluralism, a little thing called democracy, and, of course, the radical notion that consenting adults are free to have sex with other consenting adults without having to worry about being lashed or having their heads cut off in public. Canada’s also got vodka tonics, BC bud, and pornography going for it, along with Tim Hortons, pork-sausage gravy on fries, and a just and equitable social-welfare system. Is Canada morally superior to Saudi Arabia? You bet. It’s also morally superior to the United States of America.
But back to the big SA: Unless you believe that cutting off the heads of homosexuals has a “deep and completely valid cultural context,” or men treating women as their property is a “value,” you have to acknowledge that Saudi Arabia practices and promotes a thoroughly fucked-up brand of Islam. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s state-sanctioned “morals police” are not, as you imply, an imperialistic fantasy of mine. They are, sadly, a fact of everyday life for Saudi Arabian women, gays, atheists, moderate and non-Wahabi Muslims, and anyone else who fails to live up to the pinched, sex-negative, deeply psychotic brand of monotheism practiced there.
To paraphrase the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I believe that human rights are universal, man. As Saudi Arabia exists in this universe, I think that the humans there — Muslim or not, liberal or conservative, male or female, gay or straight — are entitled to their full human rights. Until that day comes, SOS, I’m going to go right on thinking that Canada kicks Saudi Arabia’s ass when it comes to morals and values. And bud.Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org