Dear Jody

By Jody Valley

Love stinks

Q: I am so embarrassed that I can't seem to talk with anyone about my problem. I know I need to talk because that is the way I process problems and work things through. So I guess you are the one I will talk to. First let me give you some background. I have been with my partner Jim for about 3 years. When I first met him, we were madly in love and we couldn't get enough of each other, if you know what I mean.

Our life and sex life was great up until about a year ago and, then, one day I noticed a funny odor on him. It kind of turned me off, but it wasn't too bad. Well, it has gotten worse and worse. I don't want to tell him that to be intimate makes me gag, so at first I bought him some good smelling soap and other body products; then, I tried rubbing scented oil all over him before getting intimate, but that didn't work. Now, I just avoid intimacy as much as possible.

Last night he accused me of having an affair with someone else on the side. Of course I told him there was no way I would do that, but he doesn't believe me. I don't want to tell him that he stinks, and I know that he is clean, so that is not the problem. How do I tell him without hurting him? I know he can't help the way he smells.

Afraid to Tell

A: My guess is that it will hurt him less if you tell him what is going on with you, than his feeling rejected by you because you are not telling him. You need to be honest with him. Encourage him to see a doctor because quite often, when a body odor changes, it can be a medical problem. If not, look into the foods he is eating, the detergent he is using, or anything else that could have changed since you first got together.

Holiday sports

Q: My Thanksgiving was horrible, and I don't know how to change things at Christmas time. Here's what happened:

I brought my new boyfriend to Thanksgiving dinner, per my parent's request. They are quite okay with my being gay, so that is not the problem here. They have always been very supportive of me. But, the problem is that it seems to be great sport, on my family's part, to talk about my past boyfriends, the sagas of these relationships, and all the embarrassing stuff I did as a younger person. (They haven't done this before, but then, I have not really brought anyone home before, either. I'm starting to get serious with this guy and thought I'd like him to meet my family, and vice versa.)

At dinner, I felt like the laughing stock of Thanksgiving. After dinner and back at my boyfriend's, I ended up having to explain a million things. It was like the third degree. The only thing that was lacking was the cold, hard chair, and the bright light over my head. (It's funny, but at dinner, he was laughing with the rest of them. I guess my past lost its humor on the way home.) I still have to explain things, as he remembers them and brings them back up to me.

Jody, how can I keep this from happening again at Christmas dinner? My parents want me to be there, and they are very accepting of me, but I can't go through this again.

Holiday Victim

A: It seems to me that you have a problem on both ends, and you need to learn how to set some boundaries with both your family and your boyfriend, instead of seeing yourself as a victim. First, let your family know that you do not appreciate your past being the focus of their dinner conversation, or any conversation for that matter. And, that if they can't agree to that condition, you will not bring your boyfriend to dinner. Secondly, you don't owe your boyfriend an explanation for your past. If he can't get that concept, then you have a red flag flying, and you better think hard about making this a permanent commitment.

Have a problem? Send your letters to: "Dear Jody," C/O Between the Lines, 20793 Farmington Road, Suite 25, Farmington, MI 48336. Or, e-mail: DearJodyValley@hotmail.com (Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The "Dear Jody" column appears weekly. )

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