Mistress Clean

5 Sep

Letterbalm Mistress CleanDear LetterBalm: My girlfriend and I have been together for eight months. She’s a great person, but she’s such a cleanliness freak that it’s interfering with sex. We can’t have sex unless I shower first, wash my hair and brush my teeth. After we do it, she wants me to shower again, and we have a fight if I say no. So, we don’t relax and fall asleep together afterwards. This is every single time, no exceptions. She also won’t let me touch her casually – stroke her hair if we’re out or watching TV or give her a kiss in public – if I haven’t washed my hands and brushed my teeth. She’s got me feeling like a clean freak, and I’m getting so angry I can’t do this anymore. What can I say to get her to get over this?

–Scrubbing Idiot

Let’s assume that you’re paying attention to basic hygiene – a sudsing of intimate parts and a quick teeth brushing – before you’re jumping into bed. That’s just plain courtesy. It’s a matter of degree. If your girlfriend thinks dirt is icky, well, she just may be persnickety, and you can suggest a giggly shower together before and after lovemaking.  But if her cleanliness obsession spills over into other areas of her life and your life together, that’s another story. Does she run around cleaning, wiping, organizing and scrubbing like a dervish? Has she lost other lovers because of her behavior? She may have a full-blown obsessive-compulsive disorder that gives her comfort and control of her environment – and, which is difficult to cure. Clearly, her demands are excessive, and you have to get her to talk about them. Ms. L.B. also says, gently, that you have to be prepared for the possibility that you must end your relationship and find a less fastidious woman:

Liz, can we talk about all this showering before and after we have sex? And, you not wanting me to touch you at all until I’ve washed and brushed my teeth. I don’t know where this is coming from or how to handle it. You seem to want everything really clean, and it makes me feel like I’m some dirty guy who disgusts you. I know you don’t mean it, but it does. Honey, I think you need help. You’re cleaning and scrubbing all the time, and you don’t stop. Have you thought about seeing a therapist who specializes in compulsive behavior? Please talk to me about all this because I want you to be happy and I want us to be together, but it might be impossible the way we’re going.

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