Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers questions from readers in a live chat. Now she’ll be answering a few additional questions for Slate Plus members only.
Q. Can’t Get Off, Call It Off?: I am engaged to a wonderful, loving man, but a few weeks ago, he dropped a bombshell on me: He hates performing oral sex. It takes too long and it bothers his temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, and he’d rather not do it anymore. He didn’t want to tell me earlier in the relationship because he was afraid I would break up with him. I feel stupid and selfish for this even being an issue, but oral is the only way I can reliably orgasm with a partner, and honestly, if we weren’t engaged, it would be a deal breaker. What should I do? My friends say I should end things, but I don’t know if I want to.
A: That is a bombshell! You just found out that the only reliable way you can orgasm is something that apparently causes him physical pain. (The “too long” part is ridiculous and I’ll overlook it for now.) It’s not selfish for you to feel shocked and dismayed.
Is he interested in getting treatment for his TMJ or finding ways to accommodate his physical needs without taking oral sex off the table? Surely there are ways the two of you can figure out techniques that work for the both of you.
If, however, the TMJ is a bit of a red herring and the real issue is that he doesn’t want to perform oral sex anymore, now that you’re engaged (here we are back at the “oral sex takes too long” claim, which raises my suspicion), I think you need to have a frank conversation about your sexual expectations. If you decide this is a deal breaker, it’s not “stupid.” “A satisfying sex life where I reliably reach orgasm” is not an unreasonable expectation to have with someone you’re planning on spending your life with.
Q. Bridesmaid Woes: A friend of mine from high school has recently asked me to be in her wedding next year. The only problem is that since high school she has gotten super into religion, in a way that goes against a lot of what I believe in. I worry that if I accept and go, I’ll get into a fight with someone about it—though I also know that people probably won’t be discussing things like abortion at a wedding. She’s also one of my oldest friends, and we were very close before she found God. I’m not sure what the answer here is.
A: I’m not sure either! It can be tempting, since I don’t know your friend, to tell you to decline, but there’s something to be said about maintaining friendships even if you disagree strongly about politics and faith. Is she the kind of person you can have a spirited debate with, disagree respectfully, and still part as friends after it’s finished? Or has her new religious fervor come between you, and you find yourself unable to articulate how divided you feel from her now? If it’s the former, consider saying yes. (You’re right that there probably won’t be a lot of abortion discussion at her wedding, although with some people, one never knows!) If it’s the latter, graciously decline.