Slate publishes a lot of advice each week, so we’re pulling together a selection of our favorites. Here are a few of the most compelling questions from the week and links to hours of advice reading. This week: sperm donors, sexual insecurities, and bridal shower etiquette.
Blood in Water: My older sister knew she was gay since she was a kid while I struggled with my identity until mid-adulthood. I am asexual and a man. No doctor has found anything wrong with me physically while every therapist thought there was something mentally wrong with me until I found one that told me I am fine the way I am. My parents still don’t really get it and my sister willfully doesn’t. She kept saying I was in the closet until I threatened to lock her in one to shut her up. When my sister got married, she and her wife were determined to each have a biological tie to the children. Her wife is an only child so there was a ton of family pressure on me to help them complete their family. I folded and they ended up with eight embryos. Three were not viable. Four were lost in miscarriages. Leaving the last one.
My sister-in-law is pregnant and it is high risk. During all this I met my fiancé. She is asexual too and it is a relief to be able to be free and happy with someone who gets me. She is the reason I have the courage to keep up my boundaries when my sister tries to stomp on them again. She told me, not asked, that if this pregnancy doesn’t work that they will try a surrogate so they need another donation from me. I told my sister I was not comfortable with that anymore and told her no. She freaked out. Called me every name in the book, insulted my fiancé, and told me I was killing their dream to have a family. They have other options: a different donor and if biology matters so much, our dad or her father-in-law were there. She could donate her own eggs. She told me I was sick in the head to think that but she always knew I was mentally off. I told her not to contact me for a while.
Our parents are completely on her side and told me I was being selfish. This might be their only chance for grandchildren (and it doesn’t help that my sister plans to name the baby after one of our dead siblings). My sister-in-law recently emailed me that all this stress was hurting her and to please wait to reconsider when we see if the baby lives or not. She is on a medical bedrest. My fiancée and I have stopped planning our wedding because of this. What should I do?
Exhausted of Explaining: I have three very kind and (mostly) thoughtful kids ages 7, 6, and 4. My 6-year-old son has autism. He is very different than what people think of autism. He is very touchy with people, loves hugs, and he LOVES babies. If we are at the park, he will take off at the speed of lightning if he sees a stroller and yells with his hands on his cheeks, “OMG they are soooooo cute.” It tends to make parents nervous because he’s huge for his age. I apologize and try to change directions, but I am so tired of saying, “Sorry, he is autistic and loves little ones.” People have left the playground we are at because he’s playing too close to their kids. I’ve heard too many whispered conversations about us letting him play with kids (even ones his own age) because of his size. He is not aggressive or mean. My other two kids tell everyone around them, “This is my brother, he’s funny but his brain is different than ours.”
Is it fair to ask the other kids to stick up for him? Should I address the parents talking in earshot about him? What can I do differently so I’m not constantly feeling the need to apologize and explain? I am not confrontational but it is breaking my heart to have him hear me say, “Sorry, he is autistic,“ instead of all the other wonderful attributes he has.
Stupidly Insecure: I’m a man in my 40s who’s dating a woman in her 30s. Right before me, she was dating a guy in his early 20s. She and I were close friends while she was with him, and while we never discussed details, she had mentioned a couple of times in passing that the sex with him was amazing, earth-shattering, and that she had never known sex could be this good. Another time, she mentioned that her orgasms were so loud that her neighbors complained. But the other aspects of their relationship were not so great, so she broke up with him.
Fast forward a few months to now, and I can’t get those comments out of my head. She loves me, and we have an amazing connection. The sex is great, but I don’t think I match up to the ex, and it bothers me. When I tell her about it, she thinks I’m being silly. She chose me, after all—in fact, one reason she left him was that she began developing deeper feelings for me. And she is very happy with our sex life.
There is a 20-year age gap between me and her ex, so it’s not surprising that I don’t have the same kind of wall-rattling vigor. I also have some mild ED (I’m working on fixing it naturally before looking at pills), but when penetration doesn’t work out, I am very good at getting her off in other ways, I can tell she has fantastic orgasms … just not loud ones. I hate that what I know of her past sex life bothers me—it’s coming from some pathetic masculine insecurity. And this retrospective jealousy and inadequate feelings are really very sad and problematic. As is the comparison and competition element. So, I am very aware that thoughts are wrong and stupid. But they keep coming back when I try to banish them. Is there some mind trick I could do to get rid of them once and for all?
Cautious Collector: My sister has asked me to work with a few of her friends to throw her an extravagant bridal shower. As a part of this, she is expecting each her friends to pay for a significant portion of the costs of event because she has done the same for several of them or knows they have done the same for other friends. I’m feeling uncomfortable asking her friends out right for this kind of money, especially since I would never do that with my own friends and none of them have volunteered to chip in financially on their own (though they all seem to be in stable well-paying jobs and a couple could probably afford it). I’m leaning toward figuring out a way to pay for this party myself to avoid any awkwardness, but it will cost a pretty penny. Should I just bite the bullet and ask for the money, since they are her friends (not mine) and this is what she wants?
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