My boyfriend of four years recently told me about an odd fetish he's dealt with all his life: He is fascinated by adult diapers and would like to wear them occasionally. If he had told me about this years ago, it probably would have been enough for me to end the relationship, because it genuinely bothers me. Though I love him and find it hard to imagine life without him, I'm having a difficult time thinking of him sexually, or even talking to him, now that I know about his strange fantasy. It's like his confession has transformed him into a different person. It was very difficult for him to tell me about this, and when he saw my reaction, he apologized for bringing it up. I know he feels awkward and ashamed, but I can't bring myself to comfort him or to say it's all right. I can't accept it, don't want to hear him speak of it, and don't want to think about it. But I don't know how to explain to him how deeply his fetish disturbs me without really hurting our relationship. I am worried that if I ask him not to speak of it anymore, he will be afraid to open up to me in the future. What should I do?
Now we know there is at least one person in the world actually looking forward to the day he loses control of his bodily functions and ends up wearing nappies. Actually, your boyfriend is not alone—here's the Wikipedia entry about people with paraphilic infantilism and the one about people who call themselves D.L.s, or diaper lovers. I know it's hard to absorb this news, but try to imagine the anguish your boyfriend has felt over the last four years wanting to tell you and wondering whether he would lose you if he did. While there are some women who can explore the deep kinks in their partner's psyche (think of the stories about couples who stay together after the husband has undergone a sex change), you clearly are not one of them. I understand that the image of your boyfriend looking like Baby Huey is killing your libido, but remember that the man you love is not a different person; he's the same man who harbored these fantasies all along. And now that the diaper's out of the bag, you two simply can't pretend he's never mentioned his fixation. For one thing, you've got the little problem of the fact that you can't bring yourself to speak to him. You could try to get past this impasse with some humor. Perhaps tell him you two need to talk, but you definitely don't want to know whether he prefers cloth or disposable. Ultimately, his confession may have so shattered your conception of the two of you that you won't be able to go on. But since you say you can't imagine life without him, consider seeing a counselor together to at least make sure you don't come to a rash conclusion.
My partner of three years and I are not married by choice. We own a home together, share our lives in every way that a married couple does, are legally recognized as common-law, and are now expecting a baby together. So what is the problem? My partner's brother is getting married in a few weeks, and his fiancee's family has a "tradition" that I am very uncomfortable with. If a younger sibling marries before an older sibling in this family, the older sibling is expected to perform a dance during the reception during which he is jeered at and teased for not yet tying the knot. My partner is expected to do this dance, and because he is the type of guy who hates to "rock the boat," he is going through with it. I can't stand this ridiculous "tradition." I don't want to make a fuss, but I also don't want to feel slighted by people I consider to be my family on what should be a lovely day for everyone. Should I make a strong objection to the dance or just smile and put up a good front?
—Sit This One Out
If the older sibling is gay, does the family stone him or her during the finale? Every family has its special customs that outsiders may find ridiculous or perplexing but go along with just to be polite (think of Garrison Keillor on the seasonal Scandinavian delicacy lutefisk). But surely one can draw the line at ritual humiliation. In addition, this is not your partner's family's appalling tradition; it's your partner's brother's fiancee's family's appalling tradition. Your partner should simply say thanks for the lovely opportunity but that he's not much of a dancer, so he'll take a pass. If he won't, you can find yourself having an extended stay in the ladies' room during the fun.
I'm in my early 20s and live far away from my family. I don't get to see them as often as I'd like to, which leaves me feeling especially guilty, as my grandparents are getting older and, in their own words, "don't have much time left." I'll be moving back to my hometown in a few months, just for a short while, and I'm planning on spending some much-needed quality time with everyone. While I have the chance, I'd like to tape-record an interview with my grandparents—there are so many things I don't know or won't remember, and this could be a chance to talk about what their lives have been like, what they remember about their families, and so on. Partly, though, the idea sounds a little morbid, and I'd hate for them to think I'm dwelling on their deaths. My parents, for their part, don't really see why I should be interested in this in the first place. Should I drop it?
Don't let your parents' indifference talk you out of this wonderful idea. Your grandparents will likely be thrilled that their beloved granddaughter wants to hear their stories. And the project is not morbid; it's a celebration of their lives. I'm sure you'll find out many things you've never heard before—that even your parents have probably never heard. How great it will be when you have your own children to have this record of their great-grandparents. And don't be surprised if when they get older, your parents suggest that maybe you would like to sit down with them and bring out the camcorder.
A good friend and I both have toddlers and are now pregnant with our second children. Our daughters both have first names that are unusual but not exotic. My friend recently told me that if her second-born is a girl, she would like to give her the same name as my daughter. Though, rationally, I know I have no claim of exclusivity on my daughter's name, my friend's intention irritates me. Am I wrong to think that this is a breach of unspoken baby-naming etiquette among family and good friends? Does such etiquette really exist? If so, what would be a diplomatic way to object? Would it be sneaky to involve an intermediary to point out the unspoken rule?
—Knocked Up and Bent Out of Shape
Dear Knocked Up,
I understand your irritation, and there's one thing you can do about it: nothing. You acknowledge you have no special claim on this name, so let it go. Try to turn your thinking around and see this as a flattering tribute to your taste and your daughter's lovely personality (no one chooses a name they associate with someone they don't like). If your friend ultimately uses the same name, on the occasions you are all together, your daughter will likely be thrilled to be known as "Big Edna" while the baby is "Little Edna." And there's a 50-50 chance she'll have a boy and all this will be moot.