My boyfriend of two years, of course, hangs out with my friends. Nick has frequently invited all of us over for game nights, etc. My boyfriend also has only known Nick as male. He doesn’t know that he’s trans, which doesn’t matter except I feel like I’m hiding something from him. Sometimes my friend has said things like how he was a flower girl when he was a kid, and I think my boyfriend has just brushed off these comments or thought Nick was joking. Nick and my boyfriend are not Facebook friends, but it’s just probably because they are basically acquaintances through me rather than because Nick is hiding something.
It’s not my place to tell my boyfriend that Nick is trans. But I also don’t want him to feel like he’s not “in on it.” He sometimes puts his foot in his mouth unintentionally to lighten the mood, and I don’t want him to say something he doesn’t mean without context, even though he is not homophobic or transphobic. That is partly my own insecurity, I admit. I could ask my friend if he’d be ok if I told my boyfriend. I kind of don’t think we are close enough to do that, but maybe it’s my only option. Any advice? — Not So Transparent
This whole letter and conundrum feels like fetishizing Nick, who may not care if your boyfriend knows he’s trans but would likely hate knowing that you’re anguishing over whether or not or how to tell him. He’d also probably hate that you think his trans status is something you are “keeping” from your boyfriend as if it’s your personal information or your burden to unload. It isn’t. You are under no obligation to make sure your boyfriend knows about Nick’s past so that he can better understand one-line asides Nick might make on occasion. But I can understand how you’d be confused as to whether you have an obligation to keep it a secret if Nick is fairly open about it and makes comments that suggest he assumes most friends and acquaintances know about his past or he doesn’t care if they know. It’s still not your information to share though, and “outing” someone who is trans, even within a friend group which is supportive and open, can have consequences those of us who aren’t trans may not fully grasp or understand.
In that vein, while I would not suggest asking Nick if it would be ok if you tell your boyfriend about his trans status, I do think it would be ok to frame similar kinds of questions around wanting to be a supportive ally and seeking clarification on how best to do so. So, instead of saying, “Nick, would it be ok if I told my boyfriend you’re trans so he isn’t left out?”, you could say: “Nick, what are you thoughts on people sharing the status of trans friends with others? Do you think that’s something that should only be shared directly by the trans person or with direct consent from the trans friend or is there some flexibility?” You could even follow it up with: “For example, I’ve never told my boyfriend because I felt it wasn’t my information to share, but I also wasn’t sure if you cared whether people know since you’re pretty open about it.” When your questioning comes from a place of wanting to support your friend, rather than figuring out how to share gossip with your boyfriend in a way that doesn’t make you feel guilty, there’s much less room for unintentionally offending or hurting feelings and more room for dialogue that can lead to deeper understanding.
(Also, you’re right: this isn’t in my wheelhouse and while I’ve had trans friends, I don’t claim to know the best way to handle a situation like this, so anyone who thinks my reply is off, please let me know!).
When we first met, we had a no-strings sex relationship that was fun, exciting, and open. As feelings developed, other things took priority in the relationship, but sex stayed frequent. However, in recent months I’ve started to notice a pattern. Whenever he initiates, I always respond enthusiastically and it’s super enjoyable for the both of us. (Of course, if I am sick or exhausted, I’ll decline, and he’s always gracious if I do.) However, whenever I initiate, I somehow always seem to pick “the wrong time” – either he’s watching TV, or he wanted to relax, or it’s too late or too early, or I was too aggressive in coming onto him, or I was too subtle in coming onto him, or, wearing lingerie as a surprise, I “put a lot of pressure” on him and I “should try harder to get him in the mood.” I’ve had a few cases where I overreacted by getting upset that I was being rejected, but almost always I’ve been gracious and shrugged it off with a laugh and an apology.
I get that people should never participate in sex unless they want to. In our recent fight though, he told me that he’s turned off that I only initiate sex when I’m in the mood – and he feels like I’m just using him. I don’t get it! Don’t people only initiate when they’re in the mood? We have a fun, playful, and affectionate relationship otherwise (kiss frequently, are cuddly on the couch, do lots of things together), but he said that because I only initiate when I want sex, he feels like a piece of meat and he wants more foreplay before things move into a “sex zone.” When I asked him what that meant, he said the timing needed to be right and I should compliment his appearance and send him sexy texts throughout the day to let him know that we will have sex later. He says he compliments me all the time and that’s why I am always enthusiastic when he initiates.
Wendy, I swear I flatter him often, give daily compliments on his appearance, and flirt with him all the time (slap his butt, tell him he looks great in whatever he’s wearing, tell him that I love the nice things he does for me). I’m lost! Am I wrong here? We’re trying for a baby, and the sex has been so tied to when he wants things that I’m afraid I can’t initiate during my ovulation period because he’ll turn me down again. We have sex probably two times a week, so it’s not dead, but I just got married! I want to have quickies and be spontaneous without being made to feel like I’m a predator! Our last discussion about this turned pretty ugly, with my telling him I resented him for holding all the keys to sex and his telling me I was pushing him too hard and not trying hard enough and that, if I wanted to be a sl*t, to go ahead and be one. We ended with my apologizing for making him feel like crap and my promising to try to work harder at turning him on, and wjile things have been alright, I can tell I was saying those things to end the fight and move on.
What do I do?! I don’t just want validation that he’s being a jerk (though that’s how I feel right now) – we just got married and I want a long, happy (full of sex) life!
Thanks so much – I love your column!! It has given me so much entertainment, new ideas, and tips over the years. Thanks for getting me through my 20s! — Deprived Newlywed
Oooh, hell no. I was somewhat sympathetic to him through most of your letter – it’s normal for sex to decline a bit after a while and maybe he *does* need a little more foreplay than you do to get in the mood — but then I got to the part where he called you a slut (!) and, oh, fuck no. The rejecting you and gaslighting you and manipulating you (like blaming you for only initiating sex when you’re in the mood when that’s how it works, bozo) was all bad enough, but calling you a slut for wanting sex (with him, your brand new husband!) crosses a major line, and if I were you, I’d honestly be thinking about annulment, or at the VERY least, making an appointment with a marriage counselor STAT and using, like, 18 forms of birth control in the meantime.
It is VERY concerning that your husband’s attitude toward sex – and the way he makes you feel about how and when you initiate it — began roughly when you got married a few months ago. Any time behavior changes right after a wedding — especially when it becomes hostile and more aggressive — is a serious red flag. Couple the newlywed status with your trying to get pregnant, and there’s a lot for a therapist to help unpack (and for you to be super cautious about – i.e., please stop trying to get pregnant!). There’s a pattern with men who are abusive, and so far your husband is following it to a “T.” He won you over with all his positive traits – he was loyal, kind, and helpful. The sex was exciting and fun and open. You married him and immediately things began to change. Within months of your wedding, he’s rejecting every attempt you make to get intimate and calling you a slut. I can predict what happens next and I hope I’m wrong. I hope you get the support – from a good therapist – to take the steps that you need to take before your husband really hurts you. The damage is already beginning. Please don’t let him take it further. This isn’t even about sex. This is about control and respect – your husband wants all the control and he has zero respect for you. The red flags are flying all over the place here. Please heed their warnings.