by Patrick Califia
My lover of four-and-a-half years has been pleading with me to tell her why our love life has dwindled. When I met her, she was only twenty-five, a sleek, graceful, sexy girl who loved to go dancing. Now she is nearly thirty and her energy seems to have faded. When I want to go out, she always finds some excuse. I think it's because she has put on so much weight that she feels uncomfortable being seen in the same clubs and bars we used to frequent. (They don't call this city "Hotlanta" for nothing, y'all!) I don't know how to tell her that she needs to slim down. I know this would wound her deeply. But the harsh truth is, I don't find her as attractive as I used to, and our routine of coming home to eat dinner in front of the television every night has me bored out of my skull.
—Faithful But Sad
As someone who thinks plus-size women are sexy, I have a hard time understanding what your problem is. Unless you are going to the gym every other day and maintaining the same waistline that you had five years ago, you can't criticize your other half for letting herself put on some pounds. But you can talk to her about what both of you can do to take better care of yourselves. Metabolisms slow down as people enter their thirties, and it's not too early to start thinking about cardiovascular health. Get up an hour early, drag her out for some exercise, and don't take no for an answer. Being more active causes your body to release endorphins and dopamine, which are great sex enhancing chemicals. Come up with sensible meal plans and stick to them. Sex is the best incentive I know for doing without that slice of chocolate cake—and you are in charge of providing enough positive reinforcement to make this worthwhile for both of you.
Patrick Califia, formerly Pat Califia, is a therapist in San Francisco.
Write Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Dr. Dyke
by Beth Brown, M.D.
I have only slept with two men in the past. So it was devastating when I was recently diagnosed with HPV, which is incurable. I tried to take comfort in internet sites that suggested this happened for a reason, but that didn’t help my sobs. I feel contaminated. I fear I may never sleep with a girl. How could I put someone at risk of cervical cancer, and who would want to take that risk? My gynecologist says that the way women have sex it would be very unlikely to “give a girl cervical cancer.” I can’t decide if I believe her. I’m seeing a counselor, but she can’t give me the answers I need.
—Frozen in Fear
I’m sorry you’re so devastated by learning you have HPV. It’s not clear from your letter if you know what kind of HPV you have. Some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer, but others don’t. Non-cancer-causing strains are sometimes cleared spontaneously, but the oncogenic ones usually aren’t. Please check out last month’s column for more info. You can have sex with anyone you like as long as you use protection—condoms, dental dams, gloves. HPV is just a virus, not a decree of life-long celibacy. Lots of people have viruses and can still have great sex and great relationships. Please continue to work with your therapist so you can get through this emotional trauma.
Beth Brown is a family physician who writes on health for the queer press.
Consult Dr. Dyke at email@example.com
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