You Need Help: Possible Pube Panic, Taking It Slow, and Parents Just Don’t Understand

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.

This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Now let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today we’re gonna talk about coming out while in a May-July romance, “taking it slow,” and your pubes.

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Q:
This is my first girlfriend — she’ll be 18 in July and I’m 22. All came out in a bombshell to the parents. I know the gay thing makes them uncomfortable but they are blaming most of it on age. How can I help my parents adjust to my sexuality and the age gap?

A:
The most annoying thing about this is that you have to act like the adult while they get to act like irrational children. Sometimes you have to let the toddler go all Exorcist on the living room floor while you ignore them and make dinner, because there’s no rationalizing with them — there’ll be a few interactions with your parents that will feel a lot like that. They’ll probably say a lot of ridiculous and easily refutable things, and make lots of weird accusations, and you kind of just have to let them have their tantrum.  And here’s why: if they’re blaming anything on age or an age gap (that is a tiny age gap, btw), the only way you can prove them wrong is by continuing to be your lovely self who just-so-happens to be gay. Besides, it’s likely that they could just be using that as a scapegoat, because it’s far more socially acceptable to be uneasy about age differences in relationships than it is to be uneasy about homosexuality.

So what they’ll need most is time, unfortunately. The golden rule of coming out is to remember to give people time / space to get used to the idea. Maybe you didn’t take long to ‘come to terms’ with your gayness, but they clearly need a few months / years to swallow this pill. Which is fine! Meanwhile, you should just carry on with your life as best as you can — make friends, get jobs, buy new shirts, tell funny stories, go on trips. The best way to help anyone adjust to your sexuality is to show them that your sexuality isn’t all there is to you, that you’re still the same grand human they knew yesterday.

 

Q:
We’re supposed to be “taking it slow.” What does that even mean? I just want to make sure I get this right!

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via riese

A:
Don’t you wish ‘taking it slow’ meant that you did everything in slow motion?

I think taking it slow means that you don’t lose yourself — your autonomy and independence — in the relationship. You keep your friends (via not flaking out on them so you can stay home and stare at your girlfriend’s face). You keep your own hobbies and interests, and don’t necessarily try to involve her in all of them all the time. You pay your own way when possible (and when it’s not rude). Sidenote: I have a really difficult time when it comes to who pays for what and being able to tell when I’m acting like a brat. I actually never want anyone to pay for anything ever. Ever. But sometimes people really want to pay! And if you insist that they don’t enough times, they tend to get a little irritated. I DON’T KNOW WHY. So anyway I add that example with this caveat: I have no idea how to successfully keep people from paying for things without sometimes hurting their feelings or pissing them off. So there.

In queer girl relationships, the most effective way of taking things slowly is by not planning ahead. Don’t think about anything more than two weeks in advance. Don’t imagine what your winter holidays might look like together. Don’t think about taking her to next year’s Pride festivities. Don’t wonder what she looks like in the spring. You may not even have a spring! You might be gobbled up by aliens or man-eating peat moss. You’d be much better off to stay right here in the present. So if you’re with her right now, then right now with her is what you think about. And if you’re with your puppy and a napkin full of kale chips, then kale chips and puppies are what you think about.

Also obviously there’s abstaining from sex, but I really don’t think that’s what ‘taking it slow’ is all about, especially w/r/t queer peoples. You can’t accidentally get pregnant, so there’s no real fear or of being tethered to this person for the rest of your foreseeable future just because you had sex, you know?

In summation: stay present, keep your friends, keep your weekly Bananagrams game, keep your goals, keep your last name.

 

Q:
I’m a virgin. and there is this girl. and we’re at this point, but I keep putting it off because I can’t find a place to get a Brazilian. Would she panic? Guys do.

A:
There are two sides to this coin, plus a clarification.

Side 1: Will she panic? You’re asking me if she would panic upon seeing a human body naked, looking like a totally normal naked human body? I SINCERELY HOPE NOT. But um, yeah, I suppose there’s the chance that a person socialized in today’s world might feel uncomfortable with seeing female body hair. I think a better question to ask yourself might be, “If this girl panics after she sees me naked and unwaxed, is she the kind of person I want to interact with?” Because my answer to that question would be NO.

Side 2: Having said that! It’s very, very important to note that if YOU feel more comfortable with yourself after a Brazilian wax, then you should absolutely hold off until you can get one, because being comfortable during sex — especially the first time you ever have sex — is pretty damn important. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Brazilians. Just like there’s nothing inherently wrong with hair! It really just comes down to what you’re comfortable with. However, that being said, Brazilians are also pretty serious w/r/t pain/cost, so if you’ve never had any kind of bikini wax before, I’d start there before working up to a Brazilian.

Clarification: Not all guys panic at the site of a unshorn pubic situation. But more importantly, whatever you’ve heard “a guy” would or wouldn’t do in any situation has little if anything to do with what a girl would do under the same circumstances. If you read somewhere that a guy would have [x] feeling about something, that’s cool, but it’s a terrible plan to let that color how you gauge a woman’s feeling on the same matter. I’m trying to say this without sounding like a man-hater. Do you know how hard that is? It’s hard.

I hope you have fun having sex for the first time! Here, you should probably read this, too:

+ How To Have Lesbian Sex For The First Time: NSFW Sunday Special

+ Lesbian Safe Sex 101: The Doctor Is In (Also, the Cartoonist)

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Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and she thinks you're fucking rad. She's 33, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox.

Laneia Nicole has written 349 articles for us.

53 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    Maybe she can ask her partner what her partner prefers? No offense but she sounds like a pleaser. But nonetheless I agree with doing/going what she’s comftable with. And perhaps that includes putting “it” off too LOL

  2. Thumb up 15

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    dear letter writer #3

    if you got to this point by getting to know your lady, then maybe you could talk to her about how you feel? if there has been sharing of feelings and secrets and dreams ad inner selves i think there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to share this fear with her. you don’t have to go into the gory details of “hon i’m worried that if you spy a hair on my bits you’re going to vom”. you can just let her know you’ve been shy of the sexytimes because you have some insecurities about how you look down there. you might not even have to specify that you’re worried she won’t like your nether hairdo.

    my bet is that your lady being a lady has grown up with all of society telling her to hate her body and will at the very least understand why you’re feeling scared. if she’s a true gentlelady she will tell you she’d like you to come as you are (sorry) whether or not she has preferences about hair. there is a small possibility she will tell you that yes, the sight of an unruly pubic hair will cause her to spontaneously combust in horror. then you can decide whether to wait until waxing or whether to dtmfa. personally i would suggest the latter, but that’s a call only you can make.

    i might just leave you with an anecdote about a friend of mine. she felt her lady hair was so unattractive she had it all lasered off for good, at considerable cost and effort. only to fall in love with a girl who is now her for-life partner who really would have preferred her with pubes. perhaps the nicest thing about that story is the partner still thinks she’s sexy and hot despite not being her hairy-pubed dream girl.

    a lover of the lady parts i once slept with said to me – “that stuff doesn’t matter, i just want to dive in there!” and hopefully your lady will have this approach as well.

  3. Thumb up 9

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    Oh the hair question!

    I wish this sort of thing didn’t matter to some people, but evidently it does. I know lesbians who would be more freaked out by a lack of hair than a full-on bush. And I know there are plenty of people who feel the opposite–and in my personal experience, it’s been mostly men that have a problem with hair. (Of course I was only ever with three guys before I came out, so this is by no means a scientific conclusion.)

    I say do whatever you are most comfortable with. Trim up a bit and let the cards fall where they may. Because if she really likes you, there will only be a second or two of “oh, there’s hair there!” before the rest of the fun stuff begins. And also, waxing hurts. And also, hair growing back is itchy.

    • Thumb up 3

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      Heather…nail on the head.

      All guys I had been with loved that I had nothing (I’m a runner and that shit gets uncoooooomfortable) but turns out, ladies seem to disagree.

      I think the most important thing to do is discuss it with your partner. It may seem awkward, but hearing them say what they want (on subjects other than lady bits maintenance) may shuffle things up for you.

      Also, dead on with the two second pause. That was me, and I’m so over it I don’t even think about it any more. Genius.

  4. Thumb up 6

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    “it’s a terrible plan to let that color how you gauge a woman’s feeling on the same matter. I’m trying to say this without sounding like a man-hater. Do you know how hard that is? It’s hard.”

    this’ just made my day!

  5. Thumb up 6

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    “Sidenote: I have a really difficult time when it comes to who pays for what and being able to tell when I’m acting like a brat. I actually never want anyone to pay for anything ever. Ever. But sometimes people really want to pay! And if you insist that they don’t enough times, they tend to get a little irritated. I DON’T KNOW WHY. So anyway I add that example with this caveat: I have no idea how to successfully keep people from paying for things without sometimes hurting their feelings or pissing them off. So there.”

    THIS. I share your same experience exactly. I’m a very self-sufficient type of person and I don’t like people doing things for me, let alone paying for me. One of the reasons why is because I don’t want to feel obligated like I owe them something. Another reason is that people have used their so called “altruism” as a ledger against myself, in order to make me feel guilty, which is manipulative. Since I’m such an “ignoramous” when it comes to who pays and who doesn’t, I’ve been told that who ever invites you to a particular event/date/whatever, should be the one paying. Then there are those experiences I’ve had, where I payed for someone and all they do is take, without so much as offering a thank you or some type of appreciation or compensation (whether monetary or otherwise), etc.

    On another note that is related, there is a book called, “The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve By Amanda Owen, that I’m interested in reading (obviously I haven’t read it yet), but illuminates some interesting things regarding this issue. Excuse the whole self-helpish title, I kind of cringed personally, but nonetheless, here’s an excerpt from a blog:

    “Are these statements familiar?

    People take advantage of me.
    I don’t get what I want.
    I feel taken for granted.
    I’m always there for others; no one is there for me.
    People don’t listen to me.
    I can’t count on anyone.
    The only way something gets done is if I do it.
    I know what is good for other people but I don’t know what I want.

    Although it can be tempting to blame people for your circumstances, if you have not cultivated reciprocity in your relationships, I invite you to entertain the following statement.

    The only possible match for someone who doesn’t know how to receive is someone who doesn’t know how to give.

    Non-Receivers are drawn to non-Givers. In other words, the problem is not that you have been drawn to non-giving people, but that you are an inexperienced Receiver. The reason this is an important distinction is that you can’t control others’ behavior; you can only control your own.

    You can learn to become a Receiver. I am going to show you how.

    Do You Know How to Receive?

    Definition of receptive: “ready or willing to receive”

    I imagine you are familiar with the maxim it is better to give than to receive. You have probably been taught about the importance of giving. Giving to others can feel rewarding. Receiving can also. We are grateful when our partners are generous, our children considerate and our bosses appreciative.

    Yet, how often have you turned away what people offer you, whether it’s a compliment, picking up the check at lunch or even an apology? How many times have you wanted life to give to you but found yourself saying, “Oh, don’t worry about me . . . I’m fine.” It’s the equivalent of the old martyr joke: “That’s all right. I’ll just sit here in the dark.”

    What happens when you don’t have experience in receiving? You are likely to believe the following statements:

    Wanting something for yourself is unseemly at best and greedy and selfish at worst.
    You shouldn’t burden others with your troubles.
    People who achieve success without help are admirable.
    Those who achieve success while enduring significant hardship are even more admirable.

    You are also likely to feel uncomfortable asking for what you want unless the following conditions are met:

    It doesn’t make others uncomfortable, upset, or angry.
    It doesn’t interfere with what people want for themselves.
    It doesn’t interfere with what someone wants for you.
    People agree with you.

    However, when you are the one who wants to give, it’s easy to see how silly it is for someone to refuse what you offer, whether that is assistance of some kind or a gift. It’s frustrating! Interestingly, a person who rebuffs your help is often the same individual who frequently complains, “I feel taken for granted and unappreciated; no one takes my needs into account.”

    Anyways, obviously I have a lot of thoughts on the whole idea of mutuality and reciprocity with regards to human relationships in general, but there you have it, perhaps it gave some insight.

  6. Thumb up 8

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    I had a friend who’s parents had difficulty adjusting after she came out. They’d spent more than 20 years imagining what their daughters life would be. Expectations, hopes and dreams of what might be. It just took some time for them to “shift” their vision of what might be. PFLAG helped a bit too.

    I love your take on “taking it slow”!

    I will speak for myself only: I hate Brazilians (the waxing not the people). I’m a fan of women au natural! I think the female form in its natural state is sexy as Hell! Read all the old poets who’ve on occasion waxed poetic (pun intended) on the subject. Cummings himself wrote of “..slowly stroking the shocking fuzz of your electric fur..” So before you do anything drastic, get a little feedback from your potential partner. Her answer might surprise you.

  7. Thumb up 7

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    I have never commented before, but as a girl who has worn and eaten bare vulva, I want to point something out about pubic hair removal: stubble.

    A bush is soft all the time. A depilated puss is very smooth for a while–the length of time depends on your method–but it does get scratchy sooner or later.

    With shaving, it happens pretty quickly but at least you can reshave the next day. With waxing–nay, by the very nature of waxing!–you have to let the stubble hang out on your vulva for a matter of weeks before you rewax.

    I thought the itchy prickle had something to do with the way the razor hit the hair and left its edge blunt, but the fact is, the shorter a hair is the less flexible it is, and the scratchier it will be on your poor labial folds or your poor sex partner’s face.

    Now, I wouldn’t not (?) go down on a girl I liked because she had deforested. But I’m always pretty happy to see that patch o’ goodness.

    • Thumb up 4

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      This. I want my lady to be comfortable and confident more than anything (after all, confidence is sexier than anything a woman can wear/wax), but I never complain if that means she has pubic hair. Stubble is no fun for anyone.

    • Thumb up 20

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      stubble is face death — totally agree.

      also, and i wasn’t sure if this was worth mentioning in the post, i think it’s fun to change things up every now and then. like, is she shaved or trimmed today? did she shave everything or just the sides? or is everything totally untouched? THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT.

      ok there are two ways to find out, but one of them is boring.

  8. Thumb up 1

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    Pube panic person (hee! alliteration!) I’m going to go ahead and echo everybody else. Ask her. She probably doesn’t really care or might prefer you keep something.

    I’m one of those people who kinda prefers the ladies to have something down there–I think it’s sexier. Also, stubble is a killer.

  9. Thumb up 12

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    “In queer girl relationships, the most effective way of taking things slowly is by not planning ahead. Don’t think about anything more than two weeks in advance. Don’t imagine what your winter holidays might look like together. Don’t think about taking her to next year’s Pride festivities. Don’t wonder what she looks like in the spring. You may not even have a spring! You might be gobbled up by aliens or man-eating peat moss. ”

    this shouldn’t even be taking it slow. this should just be how you take it. every relationship should be treated this way at all times. THIS IS A MESSAGE FROM THE U-HAUL EMERGENCY ALERT BROADCAST SYSTEM.

    laneia, color code as you wish.

  10. Thumb up 2

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    I leapt into bed with a girl about 6 months ago, then she wanted to take things slow. I reeaaalllyyyy liked her so we did most of what is suggested here! My weekly bananagrams and other hang outs/commitments continued, and we just hung together a few times a week. Then a few more times every week. And then a few times everyday!! Now we are very much together (her best friend had the commitment/girlfriend/exclusive talk for us by mistake in a car one afternoon) and I am head over heals in love with her. We are now discussing Christmas plans but only because I gave her the space she needed and let things unfold naturally :)

    Good luck!!

  11. Thumb up 1

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    Am I the only one that has a problem with a 17 year old and a 22 year old dating?? That is not even legal in most states! Yes, in the long run it’s a small age gap, but at that age there is a lot of living to be done in those years. In theory, one of them could be just starting her senior year of high school and another could have just graduated from college. There would be a serious power imbalance no matter what!

    • Thumb up 2

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      That age difference would be too much for me, too. Five years would be nothing if they were older, but there could be a pretty big difference in maturity here. Think about what you were like when you were 17 – did you have any business dating a college graduate back then?

    • Thumb up 0

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      oh lord, giving up my anonymity. for the record, she is entering college and i’m still in it. she is 18 now and yes, i’ll be 23 in september, but we’re aware of the differences in life experiences and while we respect that they exist, we don’t make a big deal out of them. i encourage her to do all of the normal college kid things just like i did. the only time age becomes a problem is with things like 21+ shows or bars.

      also, age of consent where we live is 17. just saying.

  12. Thumb up 0

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    RE: The first question. I’m in a similar place with my partner/parents. My mother is uncomfortable about the 4 year age gap (there’s 9 years between her and my dad) and they’re still obviously not completely to terms with the gayness, if the “you need therapy because you’re gay” conversation is anything to judge by.

    All I can say is, we’re just gonna have to wait this one out. The plus side to giving them time is, the more time you give them the older you get and the less the “you’re too young to make these decisions” argument stands up to even gentle prodding. We gave it a year, 18 months, at least my parents are now unable to deny its a long term relationship.

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